November 10th: Confidence
A few months back, I turned a bit too early to go down an alley and smashed up the rear passenger door of my car. Prior to that, I was highly confident in my ability as a driver. At 44, I had never been in an accident- especially one so stupid, that was totally my own fault! To make matters worse, as I was maneuvering my car around, seconds before I hit the short little pole, I had been thinking to myself “Dammit, I’m a good driver!”
Well…maybe not quite as good as I thought, huh? After the little incident happened, I found that my faith in my own driving skills faltered quite a bit. I was nervous when I backed out of my driveway, slow when I pulled into a parking spot, jumpy when I needed to angle my car around my garbage cans on trash day.
Some time has passed now- I got the door repaired, and I’m not nervous anymore like I was right after it happened. I am a bit more cautious, though, and not nearly so cocky.
This is a good illustration, on a smaller scale, of many instances where my confidence was shaken. When someone you love and trust hurts or betrays you, you feel foolish, and for a while it’s hard to trust again. But after a while, you heal, and you allow yourself to love and trust someone new…but it takes time and with the wisdom you gained in the past, you are more discerning.
After a gazillion years (it seemed like anyway) of dealing with my own addiction and relapses, the last time I got clean, I didn’t have any confidence that it would last. It took a long, long time for me to trust myself. Over the past five years, through lots of hard work, soul searching, brutal honesty, growth, change and consistent effort, I can tell you this: I have never liked myself more than I do today. I have never needed the approval of others less. I have never had less worries, I have never thought harder about or been more careful with my words and actions. In short, I am the most confident I have ever been in my life.
But I am not over-confident. I know that who I am now did not come easy. I know that who I was before is not someone I ever care to be again. And I know that she and I are one and the same- opposite sides of the same coin. I don’t fear returning to that person, exactly…but I am certainly aware at all times, probably more than anyone would ever guess, that she existed. That she exists, to some extent, inside of me.
The confidence I have today has nothing to do with my appearance. It doesn’t depend on the opinions of other people. It doesn’t change because of something unkind someone says about me. It is built on a solid foundation of trust, grown over time. I know I will keep showing up. I know I will do the right thing. I know that when I am wrong, I can own up to it, and say I’m sorry. I know who I am, and I have faith in that person. And it may have taken me a long time to get here, but I earned my spot. That feels really good to me.
I hope that you understand and believe, on a deep level, that your worth has nothing to do with physical beauty. Beauty fades. But there is nothing more captivating than a woman or man who is confident in their own ability to handle whatever life throws at them. If you are striving for something, let it be inner strength, faith in yourself, and belief in your ability to achieve whatever you want in life. I’ve never felt anything better than the security of knowing I am safe in my life because I can trust myself. I wish I had known this a long time ago. But I know it now, and I wish it for you, as well.