Or at least I thought I was …
I’ve always prided myself as a confident person. But lately I’ve begun to question my long-held belief. The questioning began the day I picked up a pencil to write and found myself in a deep inner dialogue. It went something like this…
Hello, pencil! My trusted friend.
Why do you call him friend?
Well, he is always faithful to erase the mistakes that I don’t want seen. He allows me to hide my process and make changes at a moment’s notice. He has tamed words for me and muzzled my voice when it was just too much for my audience. Wait — he isn’t my friend, is he?
He is your Plan B, Shelby. What would it look like to write more permanently? Write in pen?
DANGER! There’s something about a pen that feels weightier to me. The weight is scarier. It has more significance. When I pick up a pen to write, I need to know exactly what to write, and make sure I don’t make any mistakes.
I can understand this! But what if writing in pen could be viewed as an exercise in trusting yourself? It can display that you know what you want to say and what your page is about to host. It can give place and value to your thoughts and your ability to communicate effetely. You don’t need a back-up plan. You don’t need Sir Eraser standing at attention for your call. Confidence comes with the pen.
But what if I make a a mistake? What if what I write is a bit too racy? What if my writing process is messy with lines, commas and periods out of place?
Erasing allowed me to appear confident.
SO WHAT? What if you write something questionable or grammar isn’t perfect? You can always start a new paragraph. You can always start a new chapter. But don’t feel the need to erase your beginning. Your beginning brought you to this draft. And this draft will help craft the next. Confidence is believing in yourself in the middle of process.
As I snapped out of my inner dialogue, I began to examine my life in other areas and realized that my life isn’t indicative of a confident person, but rather a person who doesn’t like to display weakness. Confidence and inability to share weakness are two very different things. Who knew you could write a safe, risk-free life and camouflage it as confidence? Not I … well, until now.
I’m not one for staying in broken places. This realization has guided me on a journey of fighting for true confidence. Pursuing a belief system that offers support to me. No longer giving insecurity and unbelief a cozy place to rest.
On my journey I found some practical tips that pushed me toward confidence. If you find yourself dealing with lack of confidence or a false confidence, take a look at some of the steps I took to make sure I was living seen — unhidden — choosing to love my weakness and believe in myself. I made sure I was living with confidence.
1. Identify false identity.
Pray and ask God to reveal areas of false confidence in your life. Ask Him what it would look like to have true confidence in these areas. Ask for practical steps to start walking out of hiddenness and into boldness. Into true confidence.
2. Pick a weakness, any weakness.
Put a practical plan together for starting the journey to confidence. For me, in my example above, it is now writing with a pen. It is not second guessing my thought or idea. I have given myself freedom to write without perfection. The thoughts I find coming out of my mind are amazing. They are absolutely beautiful and horrifyingly dark at times. But my writing is maturing, and my confidence in myself is soaring.
3. Display your weakness.
Call up your friends and family. Share your areas of hiddenness with them. Where have you been walking in false confidence? Tell them what you feel actual confidence would look like if given a place in this area of your life. Then try. Yes, try! Have you been singing a certain way to fit in, but you would prefer to sing a different style? Sing it, and show them you. Are you a poet and know it? Ha! I made myself giggle on that one. Anyway, back to it. If you write poetry, but have been playing it safe, don’t. Write the poem you’ve had tucked away and then read it out loud. Maybe even behind a mic? We all need more spoken words in our lives! Once you do it — you display your weakness — celebrate and let confidence begin to creep in!
4. Keep trying.
Don’t give up there. Building true confidence doesn’t happen overnight. After that first conversation with myself, I still struggled to grab a pen. A pencil still felt right. It felt safe. But with each day that I pick up my pen, my confidence grows. In fact, I’m starting to enjoy the look of the deep, rich black color that now stains my paper. Don’t think that after one successful attempt you’ll have perfect confidence. Most likely it will be just as scary the next time. But if you don’t give up, I promise confidence will coming running into your open and ready arms!
This one is short and sweet. Always celebrate yourself. Success or failure. Recognize that you had to have confidence to even try. If you gave it everything you had and made sure not to play it safe, then you know there was no “fake” in that moment. This translates to pure confidence. Bit by bit it builds.
Don’t live in false confidence! It’s not worth it. It holds you back. Put your weakness on display. Find love for yourself in the middle of it. And find that true confidence makes its way to you and opens doors you could never imagine walking through!
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. –Jeremiah 17:7