Courage, Confidence, and Other Lies

misc 515

There’s a lot made of having courage and confidence in our culture. I am someone who has been told I possess both. I am always surprised by this.

And it is not being coy, I really am surprised.

I’m happy I come off that way, but I wonder if I also come off as terrified and a worrier. Because THOSE I can identify with.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~Nelson Mandela

Mostly, I think I come off courageous when I just didn’t know any better. It wasn’t that I triumphed over fear, I was naive enough to not even be afraid.

There were other times that I felt very afraid, but going one more step seemed the more obvious answer- even when staying in my flannel pjs  with a quart of ice cream was my preference. Or staying in the fear was worse than moving out of it. The lesser of two evils as it were.

Confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s a result of something…hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication. ~Roger Staubach

So many people talk about confidence as if it’s something you have or don’t. You are a confident person or you’re not. Yay or nay. In or out. Even as I searched for quotes for this post, many were suggesting you just use “your confidence”.

But I believe confidence is something that comes from a similar place as courage. You triumph over the intimidation, shyness, anxiety, the fretting.

There are times when I appeared confident, but it was because I didn’t know any better. I was not aware of the potential for disaster. A few times, I found out later about the mine field I walked through thinking it was only a nice meadow. So it wasn’t that I was born confident as much as I was born with a high tolerance for blissful ignorance.

Other times I have come off confident is because the thing in question wasn’t my shark. My trembling-let’s-not-even-joke-about-it fear is sharks. Yes, yes, everyone is afraid of…Uh, no. Really. Even after three martinis, I wouldn’t watch that Shark Week on TV.  So, give me a speech in front of a crowd or networking with strangers anytime over a swim in the ocean.

The thing is, I do swim in the ocean. I make myself do it. The mental pep talks and fortitude it takes is exhausting, but the swimming part, the buoyancy part is worth it.

There are things that aren’t worth it. Like watching Jaws. Or joining a gym. I’m not in for group or public exercise. I have no desire to do those things. If that is a lack of courage or confidence, so be it. Pick your battles.

And then there’s the confidence that is all gild and no gold. Just fake it. Just put on the good bra and your favorite lip gloss and do what you gotta’ do.

We can’t wait for courage and confidence to appear. We create courage and confidence by moving forward. Out of the PJs. Out of the comfort zone. And if your knees shake the whole time? So what.

Let them shake. As long as you don’t miss out.