Lately, a few people have called me the “C” word. Maybe it has to do with me being a woman, but hearing myself being called the “C” word has been a little unsettling. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take it. You know the word I’m talking about, its the one you don’t hear too terribly often: CONFIDENT.
I know, what’s the problem with that, right? That’s an awesome compliment, but much like the way I interpreted being called relentless, this one had made me at first, a little insecure. Again, perhaps this has to do with being a woman. I was having a struggle with the C-word. Upon being called this, I went into a search for what I needed to do with this statement. Confident? Is that bad? Aren’t I supposed to shrink? Aren’t I supposed to make space for others? Am I coming off as cocky, or too sure of myself? Perhaps this is off-putting to those who are older, or more experienced in my field? Perhaps it seems undeserved? I even asked my husband if I should back off a bit from seeming so confident. Should I play smaller, more meek, at least to those who I am trying to learn from or work for? Maybe being young-ish and female and confident is a bad thing. I was really wrestling with this word.
Recently, I’ve read some criticism about the Millennial generation; how we are overconfident, how we demand things that we have not earned, how we take too many selfies and spend too much time on the internet. This is rich, considering we are a generation with the largest collective student loan debt and the fewest appropriate job opportunites since the Great Depression. With the economy’s decline, and the planet in civil and environmental unrest, I’d argue my generation has no time to be anything BUT confident. There is work to be done. There are jobs to be created. There is money to be made. There is a planet to be made better. So why should we feel guilt about being called confident? Then, like a sign from the heavens, my brain reached way deep and pulled out a file. A video I had seen many years before on VH1. It was the Gospel of Britney Spears (another Millennial), and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Am I too confident? What do others think of me? Am I coming off as nice and humble? Here’s what I’ve decided:
Am I confident? I am. Extremely, actually. Not because I am the best at anything, or the most experienced, or because I am the prettiest, or the wisest, or the thinnest or the funniest, or the one with the answers or the longest legs or the cutest nose. Confidence is based on a simple formula of wear and tear that lends itself to shape and polish.
Here’s how I own the C-word:
I’m confident in my abilities based on my experience thus far, and I’m even more confident in my desire and ability to learn.
I’m confident in my unending passion because I have never been able to silence it, and therefore have never been able to settle.
I’m confident because years of oppressive self-dialogue regarding my body, my personality flaws, and the inadequacies of my life made it impossible for me to be happy, so I got help and now I only say kind things to myself. I am my own best friend, my own manager, my own cheerleader. It helps that I have an amazing support system that helps me with this when I struggle. But, again, this is a support system I sought out, disregarding any who would bring their own negativity into my life. This is something I work on constantly.
Professionally, I’m confident because I love what I do. I don’t just love what I do. I LOVE what I do. This doesn’t mean I do what I do better than anyone else, but it means I do it the best I can. If you look around, you see not everyone is doing their best. If you’re doing your best, you are in the minority, and this is a strong reason to be confident.
I’m confident because I’ve had the most knowledgeable and giving teachers.
I’m confident because I’ve had the most open and willing students.
I’m confident because I failed at something else. Ok, I sort of gave it half-effort. But I failed. And failing makes you really confident when you move on the the next thing. The more you are rejected, the more you solidify who you are. Imagine being in a circle of people pushing you back and forth. Eventually, you would develop the strength to stand up, and not be pushed from side to side. This is rejection and failure. Allow yourself to be pushed and know your emotional thighs are gaining the strength to get you standing, and keep you there.
I’m confident because I have a BFA in Musical Theatre and I’m a middle child. Both experiences taught me that if you want to be heard, you must speak clearly, loudly, and with distinction.
I’m confident because I’ve had my own share of adversity. I had a friend in college who used to say “I’m from the streets!” when cornered and defensive. I’m pretty sure she was from suburbia, but her sentiments ring true in the quest for confidence. You suffer and you learn, you grow and you get tough, you get wisdom and you get PURE, GENUINE, UNFILTERED, GRADE A CONFIDENCE.
I’m confident because I track my life mileage. I allow myself the time to look back and see how far I’ve come. This is the key to owning the C-word. Try this version of Madlibs: See that only ___years ago, you were doing ___ and you’d never thought____ would happen. Now look at you! Track your life mileage and you will know you have a right to the C-word.
I’m confident because I realize anything I do that is really, really, good work doesn’t come from me, it comes from something higher and deeper, and much more powerful than myself. Like Pharrell said, a kite can’t fly without the wind, so any success I have is in partnership with everything around me. Genuine humility is genuine confidence.
Britney Spears had it. You shouldn’t care. Be confident. Whether or not you are of the Millennial generation, or a woman, or have no experience whatsoever, there’s a ton of work to do. If you know what you love to do, pursue it relentlessly and never ever apologize for being good at it. If you are are searching for your life’s work, never settle for anything less than true love. And never play small. That little light of yours is not so little. You had better let it shine.