I wish I was one of those people who boldly jumped at the chance to try something new. I wish I felt the thrill of adrenaline and chased rampantly after adventure. I wish was braver, brighter and more exciting. I wish I knew how to be confident.
But time and time again, I am reminded that I’m not a thrill-seeker and confidence doesn’t come naturally to me.
The other day I went mountain biking for the very first time. I jiggled and bounced my way along the tracks, gripping onto the handlebars for dear life. The entire time, telling myself I was going to fall off or my brakes would fail and I’d be grievously hurt.
I felt ridiculous for going so slowly and even more ridiculous for having to stick to the kiddie track because the others sounded too terrifying.
It seems that whenever I try to do something new or scary, my mind is flooded with insecurities and I feel so awfully ashamed.
I feel frustrated with myself for being so afraid of everything. I feel guilty for slowing everyone else down. I feel stupid for needing to stop or for crying when I feel overwhelmed.
I churn these thoughts over and over in my head until I feel totally battered and bruised. As soon as I find the confidence to step out, shame pulls me right back.
This shame is so deeply entrenched in me I don’t even know where to look to begin excavating it.
I watch other people stride confidently through life and I wonder why I can’t do the same.
Why do I hold myself back and hinder my own progress? Why do I believe I am always going to fail? Why do I whisper the worst possible outcome to myself so that I walk in trembles rather than strides?
I’ve considered that maybe this is just a part of my personality or the way that I was raised. Always cautious and much happier to observe than participate.
But I think there is something more to it than that.
I think what I need to learn is how to be confident. How to hold onto that steadfast belief that I CAN do it if only I try. Shame has taken every smidgen of self-belief and squeezed it out of me.
The reason my friends zoomed out on to the ice this past weekend when we went skating, while I held on fiercely to the railing is because they believed in themselves, and I didn’t.
They’ve done it before and they knew that they could do it again. They weren’t afraid of falling because they knew they were perfectly capable of composing themselves and getting right back up again if they did.
They had confidence in themselves.
I, on the other hand, saw the slippery ice and felt the thin blade on my shoes wobble beneath me and I was absolutely certain that I would fall straight on my face and make a spectacle of myself.
Every time, what trips me up is that little lingering voice of negativity. The one that tells me I can’t do it, that I’m not safe and if I try, I’m going to fail. It is the fear of falling that terrifies me and stops me from jumping in.
The bravest thing I can do is hear that voice but go anyway. Give it my best effort, show up even though I’m afraid, try even though I might fail.
I think that’s what we often get wrong about courage.
Confidence might be flashy, impressive or pretty to look at but courage usually isn’t. Most often, courage looks like simply showing up. Actually doing the brave thing, even though it scares us.
It reminds me of the lyrics from a song in ‘The Sound of Music’…
“I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again!
Besides, which you see
I have confidence in me!”
I want that so very much. Even if I look from the outside like I’m shaking. Even if I’m quiet as a mouse and the last to jump on my bike. Besides what you see, I want to have confidence in me.
I want to back myself. I want to give myself the credit I deserve. I want to feel proud of who I am and what I do.
I don’t want shame to cloud my vision or make me feel inferior anymore.
So I’m learning how to be confident…
I’m starting with working on my mindset. Replacing those negative thoughts with brighter ones. Telling myself that I CAN do it and I AM strong enough and I’m brave even just for trying.
Then I’m going to push myself to do even more. I’ll fill my life with more adventure, more excitement, more of the things that make me feel a little bit shaky but incredibly alive afterwards.
So that shame finally realises that I am not one to be messed with. I won’t let it stop me from living fully.
And lastly, no matter what, I won’t give up.
Even if it takes me three times around the ice rink holding onto the sides before I let go. Even if I have to hold someone’s hand the entire time or if I have to stick to the kiddie track and cry a little bit because I’m afraid.
I’ll keep on trying until eventually, I succeed. Until at last I find that confidence that’s buried deep within me.
I’ve let shame get the best of me for too long.
I have allowed it to throw shadows over my dreams and batter my self esteem until I’m too afraid to even try.
Regardless of how many times someone might tell you, you are brilliant or lovely or wonderfully talented, there is still that one voice which tells you otherwise.
But I think it’s time we start believing what everyone else says about us. We are brave, we are strong and we CAN do it if we will only try.
Besides what you see…I have confidence in me.