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Confidence equals arrogance? Since when?

All my life I have battled with the notion that to feel good about yourself, your accomplishments and your life might easily be construed as being pompous, egotistical and arrogant. It's not that I hid my talents and opinions under a bushel barrel, but I have always had difficulty taking a compliment. The same is true of criticism - which, if it is genuine and given without an ulterior motive, is, in fact, a very great compliment - for someone to have taken the time to give you advice that is intended to truly nurture you - to help you grow - well, that is just as wonderful as being told you're the best thing sliced bread.

Unfortunately, all too often criticism comes tinged with a hue that has nothing to do with wanting to be helpful at all.

Usually it has a lot more to do with the other person than it does your performance, behavior, or opinion. The same can be true of compliments, as well.

Today someone leveled the criticism that I am "too full of myself". Now there was a time when I would have jumped and said... yes, true - what do I have to be proud of? - I should be ashamed!

But... to be proud and confident of who you are and what you believe - WHEN did that become a bad thing?

I've always admired confident people. They seem to cut right through all the tedious things in life that waste time and deter productivity. I always thought it was something given them by their parents, their genes, or something they earned from others. I always thought they were just lucky. But now I know that is not true. Confidence is something you learn about yourself - not through the eyes and words of others - but by learning about yourself - by defining who you are.

Yes, I have met people who indeed, have crossed the line into arrogance - we all have. They're boorish and talk only of themselves and never ask questions of others.

But trust me, it is quite possible to be confident and still be humble.

I'm a very humble person. I feel that all the gifts/talents/blessings that I have were given by the grace of a higher power. Yes, I took responsibility for them, chose to develop them and along the way met a lot of people who helped me do exactly that. Every book I have ever read, every play I have seen, every song I have ever heard - all have contributed greatly to the person I am becoming.

You see, for a long time I did not believe 100% in my gifts - not completely, not truly. I've always held back just a little - because it hurts to be wrong - especially about abilities. "It hurts to be found out public like a frog."

There was a time when I lived my life like a sparkler - shooting off in a million different directions all at once. I wanted to share everything about me. I wanted to prove my gifts. I wanted to be noticed, to be seen. But for the past ten years or so, something has changed. Now I like to keep my gifts very private. I hold them close and share them with very few people - because the longer I spend time on this earth and expose myself to other people, the more I tend to find that people, given the chance, are just too wrapped up in their own muck to really listen to anything you have to offer. They become mean-spirited, spiteful - without provocation. So I no longer share as much of myself as I once did.

The whole process of putting something out there and then getting smacked back down because people are jealous, or angry, or frustrated, or feel the need to cut someone else down in order to make themselves feel better about who they are - or because the just genuinely don't like it - it's become to risky, too predictable. In a way - by putting yourself out there, you are in fact, being self-abusive - especially if you're aware of the risks involved. Anytime total strangers are allowed to take pot shots at you... you open yourself to all sorts of nastiness that has very little to do with whatever it is you had to offer.

Which I guess is the point of this entry... when people say nasty, baseless things - it really says much more about them than it does their target.

I am fortunate... and grateful for everything - the good, the bad, the success, the failures - that I have experienced so far in my life. It's made me a better person - someone who is confident (most of the time) - someone who acknowledges and is grateful for his gifts and talents and continues to develop them - and most importantly... someone who has defined who he is - and who he is not - and is not afraid of defending it.

When I think of all the years I spent wanting to be ANYBODY else but me... well, trust me, that is no longer true. I really am very happy with who I am becoming. (No, I'm not finished yet. None of us ever really are... )

So - the next time someone accuses you of being too full of yourself... take a moment and think about it - is that REALLY such a bad thing? Also consider the source - and if you find that it is someone who doesn't have a clue about who you are - if they present themselves as some anonymous chatroom handle with no picture, no website, no e-mail address (in short - offering nothing of themselves) - don't give them the power to make you question who you are - you KNOW who you are (if you've been doing your homework).

And that, my friend is a very valuable thing to know.

Keep peddling, Skippy. We're getting nearer the top of that hill.

- mhk


whew said...

Who are you writing to beside you and me? Get real, show your true self in your blog if it actually is a true blog, not the self that you wish for all others to see. Full of yourself....yes, it can be a bad thing, Confident people are confident because they have the credentials. Confidence and full-of-ones-self should never be are fill of your self.

stlouispkrunner said...

Dear whew - please blow elsewhere you anonymous faceless troll. I do have credentials... I do have confidence in my abilities - but I am not full of myself - how can I be? I'm not finished becoming who I am. Now - it's my party - and you can whine if you want to. Razzleberry to you. This is the real me. Who else COULD I be? Now you, on the other hand - why you could be anybody, couldn't you? Or nobody. (I think the latter.) Good luck to you and thanks for writing. Bye now. - mhk