I started thinking about confidence this weekend while I was working at Josh’s restaurant during a street festival when they needed some extra hands. I was in charge of putting trays of glasses into the dishwasher, taking them out, polishing them and putting them away. On repeat. For 6 hours. But, hey, I’m getting paid, so who can complain, right?
Anyway, my enthralling duties allowed me some good old thinking time. Sometimes when I’m drowning in a daydream, I start writing (a blog post, for example) in my mind. I probably have the worst memory in the world, so I really don’t remember much of my mental blog post. As the creative juices were flowing, I knew this would happen, so I repeated “confidence” over and over to myself for a while in hopes that I would, at the very least, remember the subject matter. And I did! Halleluja!
Alright, getting to the point, the reason that this thought crossed my mind was because whenever I’m shoved into a new situation with new people, I suddenly feel like I’m that 11-year-old awkward kid all over again. Except now I know how to seem normal and not weird, unlike the 11-year-old Marlee who was pretty hopeless and socially challenged. On the inside, I have about 5 different options for things to say before I actually carefully choose one that I think is appropriate (Oh my god, while writing this I suddenly realize I sound like Jacob, that kid with Aspergers in House Rules by Jodi Picoult).
When I was younger, I would follow my social instincts because I didn’t have much more to go by. I must not have been that weird because I always had friends, many of whom are still my good friends, but I was never “popular” and I was teased sometimes. My experiences in elementary school and the fact that I’ve always been sensitive must have played a role in the fact that at a certain point, I became frighteningly aware of my own awkwardness. I have multiple flashbacks from different ages of my formative years feeling so lost as to how I’m “supposed” to act to be “cool” or how I’m “supposed” to act with boys. I obviously figured it out, albeit slowly, and I can confidently say that I know exactly what I should and shouldn’t say in social situations. My social instincts evolved over many years and I think around the end of high school is when I reached a point where I was able to emit confidence.
The reason I started thinking about this is because this past weekend at work, while shoved into a new situation with strangers surrounding me, I suddenly became aware that my “confidence” in certain social situations is fabricated. A million things go through my mind and about 1% of those thoughts are transferred into words that escape from my mouth and formed into sounds, accompanied by appropriate facial expressions or gestures. I’m not saying that I deliberate every thing I say all the time. It’s just in new or stressful situations where this forced confidence emerges.
This weekend, I was working with a girl who was super nice. I wanted to make a good impression on her just in case they might be looking to hire. I also have this crazy obsession with pleasing people and ensuring that they think highly of me. Any tiny mistake could lead to my demise.
While polishing my 347th glass that day at the restaurant, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that when the pressure’s on, I don’t have genuine confidence. In many situations, I question myself to the point of self-destruction. The reason I’m able to recognize mine as fabricated confidence is because I happen to live with someone who has real-deal confidence that I admire. Josh is the most confident person I know, yet he’s still selfless, kind and not arrogant.
It has been my goal for a while to have that confidence one day. And I mean real-deal, pure, raw confidence. But how do I get this? It’s so hard!! I know it’s possible, but trying and allowing time to take its course is just so frustrating. I don’t want to settle for pre-fab confidence in a jar! I want real, organic confidence, please! Any tips would be awesome, though I know it’s more complicated than that. I know it’s about soul searching and finding my own path and blah blah blah, but I really wish I could just press a big red magic “C” button.