Two weeks ago, giddy from riding a wave of confidence growth, I tried to explain to my sister how I felt. In my mind, it was like dragging that Krazy Karpet to the top of the hill in two feet of snow, then pushing it to get started because the snow was soft and the friction kept me still. After about six feet, I felt the momentum of the Karpet, and I had to use less effort to increase speed and then, I hit the smooth, icy section and I was off!
Confidence is like that. I’ve never really had much in life; it was something others had, something I envied and sometimes felt annoyed by because some had too much and were in my face or not bothering to look back to see how they looked from the perspective of others. That was my problem, not theirs.
Long ago, I gave up the desire to obtain confidence because I thought it was something not for me. It was like the talent to play guitar, the ability to recall phone numbers after hearing them once, the skill to walk in high heels and not feel like an idiot.
Over the past two months, that’s changed. I can’t thoroughly explain why; I don’t understand it myself. I just feel different.
My struggle to put into words this feeling one gets from gaining momentum from continual effort and building on what I’ve already done with regard to feeling a little confidence that fuelled additional confident also had Robert Downey Jr. struggling to get it into words. I came across his quote about a week after talking with my sister:
I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you the confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.
Confidence is that intangible thing experts try to instil in people and while I’ve taken part in exercises to increase my confidence, I’ve walked away feeling no different. It’s like the advice couldn’t take root because the soil was sterile.
But this time, it’s different, and I didn’t need an expert or anyone to plant the confidence seed. It took root naturally like a weed in a fire-ravaged landscape, and I discovered fertilizer through writing, thinking in quiet places, reading quotes and music. These are my sources; you may share them or have completely different ones.
“I’ve always felt that if you’re not on your side, why should anyone else be. So I always encourage people to be confident, and sometime even a little falsely so, just so you can give yourself an opportunity.” ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Exactly! Be the first one on your side, stay there and cheer for you. You’ll attract those who matter, who will also be on your side.
Confidence grows like a newborn. There’s a rush that makes my heart flutter and opens my eyes to endless possibilities, and then the growth stalls, settles and I remain on that level growing accustomed to the feeling until another growth spurt takes hold. And then, wow.
I’m a visual person, and while my heart pounds when in that rush of growth, my eyes see flashes of a mine filled with shiny gems. One gem rises above the others and glows brightly. I’m unsure of what this gem represents: confidence, a bright future, the endless possibilities? If I close my eyes, I can hold the image for a few seconds, but then it’s gone like a wisp of smoke in the wind. I allow this feeling to run freely, and it erases every line I’ve ever drawn for myself.
I’ve learned that I can’t allow confidence to reach its full potential if I keep looking back to see how I’ve done, what image I projected and how others perceived me; it’s like confidence is a future-seeing thing only. My older brother had a philosophy of never looking back; I’ve never met anyone more confident than him.
I used to tell him that he had to look back once in a while and see if he caused any damage. We joke about that day in the early 90s when I was following his truck in my truck down a back road, and his kids’ plastic pool (6 feet wide) flew out of the bed and I had to swerve to miss it. We got to our destination, he got out and asked where the pool went.
“If you had looked back, you’d know it almost hit me.”
“Never look back,” he said. “You can’t change what happened, so don’t waste time trying.”
Reaching my full potential means not over analysing everything I do. I’m horrible for that. What I’m really doing is looking for the flaws in what I’ve done. Putting a spot light on the flaws reduces confidence, so from here on, I will glance at the past, but I won’t dwell on it. The past is done; I can’t go back and edit or revise it. To some degree, I can learn from it, but for many of us, the past reminds us of our inability to do something well, our doubts, our fears. It makes us second guess our decisions.
Let it go; you’ll be okay. In fact, you’ll be better.
Confidence is a slippery eel – at least it is for me. If I don’t actively think of it, it slips away. It’s like I have to add kindling every day. A song can fuel the fire, and sometimes I need only glance at a quote next to my computer. At the moment, Robert Downey Jr.’s quotes are resonating with me; it’s like my energy is passing over where he has been and I’m seeing his footprints. I’ll follow them a spell, but then I have to cut out, make my own path.
Don’t let someone who has done nothing tell you how to do anything. ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Why do I need to be told that? I should know it. It’s happened to me and while I knew they knew nothing about writing or the publishing industry, I listened to the bad advice. Not anymore.
I focus on quotes that energize me and get me to the next level. Stupid quotes I grew up believing have been destroyed.
- Wait for your ship to come in.
I don’t think so. I’m jumping off the wharf and swimming out to it.
- Good things come to those who wait.
While you’re waiting, I’m running towards those good things.
The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life. ~ Hal Elrod
Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway. ~ Robert Downey Jr.
The moment you forget who you were, the limitations and fears that held you back disappear and you are free to be whoever you want to be. ~ Diane Tibert
Find the quotes that resonate with you, the ones that fuel your confidence and stick ‘em everywhere. Read them daily.
But there’s more. For me, it’s not only confidence. One might say I passed through the perfect storm the first half of 2019. My confidence-building mind set collided with self forgiveness and the ability to let go of the past and the guilt I’ve been carrying for 34 years.
I relived that guilt the first ten weeks of this year, and I allowed it to run unbridled. I felt it as if I was 17 again and while it brought me to my knees at night in snow with -20-degree temperatures, wishing with all my might I could change the past, I survived it, and this time, I made amends with it. Somewhere in those crazy days, I forgave myself, and released the weight. I can’t change the past, but I have the power to influence my future, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.
Everything I had carried with me, I let go. Everything: the good, the bad, the person others wanted me to be, what I thought my future held. I wiped my slate clean. I refuse to be her because I was never her to begin with. I am strong; I have hope, a healed heart and courage to make the next ten years my best years. The only one setting limits is me.
This is why at 51, I feel like I’ve awakened to a new life, one full of potential, one that’s all mine. The perfect storm planted the seed of confidence, renewed my spirit and cleansed my soul.
Family and friends may see the old me but when I look at them and the world, I see through clearer vision from a new perspective, from a place that will continue to evolve as my confidence grows and new experiences shape me in ways I cannot imagine. I don’t want to imagine it right now; I don’t have everything I need, and I will not limit my future on my inability to see what’s possible.
Remember: Self-confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. Dress yourself in it every morning.
I make no apologies for my aggressive approach to confidence. I have one of two choices: capture it or let it slip away.
This is the second of four posts on life and how my perspective of it has drastically changed the past three months. The transition started July 2018, but it has taken me until this spring to fully realise the path I travelled up until last July has changed. From the outside, I look the same (except I’ve lost over 35 pounds). The major changes have taken place inside. It’s like someone else’s brain fell into my head, and it’s looking around thinking, let’s renovate this life. There will be exceptions to how I think, but the exceptions don’t change the rule.
I’m writing these for two reasons: 1) to remind me of my journey and where I really want to go (out there, beyond where I’ve been); 2) to share my experience with the hope others will be inspired to change their perspective, so they can live a better life. My journey has been helped by those who put into words a better way to live. I hope I can do the same in some small way.