Confidence comes and goes for me.
It never comes easy, but when it does it rarely stays for long.
I’ve devoted a lot of time and thought to where exactly that comes from for me, this lack of confidence. I’d like to blame a lifetime of disappointment, not all major, which isn’t that surprising. It’s the small, frequent ones that teach you. I’d like to blame a crippling anxiety complex, but it’s origins are just as numerous and inter-related. And that’s probably it. Its origins are as vast as any other part of my personality.
So, unsurprisingly, it will not be easily rooted out. Whatever this block is, and though I call it a lack it feels like a block, like something else is standing in its place, stealing its chair so it can’t sit down and stay a while, whatever it is, it’s not going to be cured overnight.
The thing about me is that I can dish it out, but I cannot take it. I’m an encourager. I couldn’t tell you when that started, either, but it’s something I’ve long since fallen into and one of the few things I can brag about myself. And I don’t simply mean “encouragement” like “good job”; more like “that’s a great idea. What do you need to get started?” Know me for more than five minutes and I’ll likely have mentioned at least one of my friends and whatever project they’re working on that I’m genuinely thrilled about. A good portion of the reason I wear So Worth Loving shirts is because I’m immensely proud of Eryn and the company she started. There’s nothing I like better than giving shout-outs.
But when it comes to me and whatever I’m working on, moving towards, dreaming about, I’m more likely to be mute.
This week I sat at dinner with friends and family, and I realized, as I looked around the table, that everyone sitting there was making some big leap of faith. My friend, Abbie, who just returned from another year running her English schools in Ukraine. My parents, who a few short months from now will be heading over there to run one of those schools. My sister, who was getting married that weekend and had just moved cross-country to be with her soon-to-be husband.
And as I looked around the table, not only did I realize what incredible faith each of them was showing but how confident I was with each of their decisions. There was no doubt in my mind that each of them was doing exactly what they needed to be doing, and thus there was no doubt in my mind that each was going to succeed.
But as I looked around that table, going down the line of each person I loved and thanking God that I got to sit at the table with them, I eventually swung back around to me. Only there was no confidence. I was surrounded by faith, but it felt absent on my end of the table. And it wasn’t because I’m not taking a leap of faith. I’m moving cross-country, in a few weeks. I’m stepping into something new and different. And yet I did not feel like them. I did not feel worthy to sit at that table.
See what I mean? I can dish it out, but, for some reason, I can’t take it.
I don’t know where that comes from exactly. One would think I’d have no confidence in anything or anyone, but instead I radiate it in all directions only to have a giant blind spot for myself. It feels a lot like those old cartoons. Where the character has a raincloud right over their head, but only over their head.
I look around at the people I know, more even than were at that table, all of whom are doing amazing things, and I feel the same level of confidence for them. I know they will succeed, not without work, but I know they will. I look at them and know they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing; they are stepping out in faith.
But I feel like I’m making it up as I go.
Before you get too far ahead of me, I think that’s it. I didn’t think that in the moment, but later, when I really started thinking about, I realized that I think that’s how it always is.
I know confident people, those who can have as much faith in themselves as others. I know it’s possible to live like that, but something tells me that at the back of it, deep down, there’s this feeling. The one that tells you everyone else has it figured out but you. The trick, I suspect, is in learning to ignore that voice.
Maybe that’s all confidence is. Looking anxiety and doubt in the face and doing it anyway, believing anyway. It’s something I’m still learning, of course, and I know I’m where I am in order to do just that.
More than that, maybe there’s a reason faith in others comes so easily for me, and why I am so blessed to have so much cause for it. Maybe I’m surrounded by all these amazing people to remind myself that no one necessarily feels amazing while they are doing it. The leaps of faith rarely feel like faith when you’re making them; mostly they just feel like leaps. Maybe everyone feels like they are making it up as they go.
And maybe I need to believe in them all the more, especially when I can’t believe in myself. Because that’s why we’re here, why we have things like community. To remind us of what we can’t see in our own situation.. To give to each other what is not so easily given to ourselves.
Because maybe if I believe in you, you’ll learn to believe in you, and maybe I’ll learn to believe in me, too.