“When you become certain of who you truly are, you can be present in the world with confidence. The way you see yourself is the main determining factor of the way others will perceive you. If you enter a room feeling that you are not worthy of being noticed, people will often behave as if you were invisible. People who enter a room feeling confident project energy, causing others to turn around and acknowledge their entrance.”
–Ingrid Collins, author of A Year of Spirituality–A Seasonal Guide to New Awareness
I remember a conversation I had with a former co-worker at one of a old jobs. She was a heavyset African-American woman who was known for her direct tone and loud mouth. I didn’t talk to her very much because of those two factors and–unless I needed something–avoided her at all costs. Well anyway, the secretary was sick and I filled in for her to make extra money. I sat at the front desk, studying for one of my classes when she came up to the desk out of nowhere. I attempted to avoid all eye contact as she picked up one of my books and asked:
“Who’cho studyin’ at schoo?”
“Wha’cho goin’ to go to schoo’ fo’?”
“To be a sex abuse therapist.”
“Oh…you too quiet. You gotta speak up to do that kinda work.”
That’s when I finally looked up. “What do you mean by that?”
She placed my book back on the desk. “I watch you all the time. You keep yo’ head down, you don’t talk to nobody. You do stick up for yo’self when you need to, but I never hear you talk. If you goin’ to do something like this, I gotta have confidence.”
I told her that wasn’t the case and that I speak when I need to. Internally, I felt this woman was out of bounds and–with the exception of the cook–I avoided everyone in that motherfucker. However, as I reflect on that conversation, I realize that she is not the only one who noticed my lack of that one human ingredient: Confidence.
Having little to no confidence has been one of the reasons why I just let shit happen at times. It plays into my procrastination, my silence and my being a semi-loner. People whom I thought were my friends lied to me and–though I don’t trust them to hold my hand–they’re usually kept around for the sake of someone else. Furthermore, my first sponsor and in a 12-Step program I’m involved with usually criticized me for being “too sensitive” when I stood up for myself against her and her then live-in boyfriend. And my Dark Passenger told me they were right at the time (granted, if this were to happen today, I would be getting a new sponsor!) If you hated me, it was my fault and I somehow deserved it. If you slept with me and left, I was a dumb whore and you found someone else better than me. No one could be trusted because you would try to use my weaknesses against me. Shit, even my BOSS is telling me that–though I’m improving at my job, I need more confidence.
Everything in me wants to experience the sweet joy of walking into a room, only to have it explode with my presence. But something inside of me recoils from my own light the majority of the time because–if I show myself–I don’t know what’s gonna go down. And as a Sex Abuse Counselor, I can’t bask in the Shadows anymore. Not like I used to.
I usually tell you, Dear Reader, that this type of thinking is typical of trauma victims who have been criticized harshly for being who they are. But I also have to add also that finding/obtaining/maintaining confidence is a life time gig. It doesn’t stop once you have an “Aha” moment or when you grow the balls to tell someone go the fuck on somewhere. Your confidence doesn’t stay stuck to you when you sing in front of an audience for the first time. The fear always comes back and it’s usually much stronger the next time. The only tune that changes is the WAY we handle situations that used to shake our confidence. When we overcome that, we stand tall on the shoulders of giants. But we must not sit on our laurels because something is going to come up and thus having to continue to grow.
For instance, I don’t care what people think of me on most days anymore, but I still have the fear of losing someone to an argument gone out of hand–no matter who started. But I handle it differently because I know that a true friend would never make you feel like shit for their own amusement. Be that as it may, I am usually intimidated by class work and my overall performance, so I have no confidence in my ability to learn. That’s something that stems from being called “stupid” by my mom and overcoming this is something I seriously have to work on.
I understand that we’re going to have our heads down sometimes, but don’t let it get to the point where you believe you are able to tie your shoes without feeling like a fuck up. Seek programs like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which teaches core mindfulness and how to step back to look at the world logically. Surround yourselves with TRUE FRIENDS. Step outside yourself and do volunteer work. Add to your world by adding to that of others (note: remember to set boundaries when doing the last step). But most of all, always remember that your feelings and thoughts are not fact. I can’t even tell you how much drama I caused myself because I everyone was out to control me, having the “need” to either fight, fly or freeze.
I may sound like a hypocrite when I say this, but don’t let the Darkness catch you and if it does, don’t let it have you for very long. We can’t play and live in the Light otherwise.
Huh…I see that co-worker had a point after all.
Collins, I (2003). A Year of Spirituality: A Seasonal Guide to New Awareness. London, England: MQ Publications Limited.