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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

The two types of confidence

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fear of looking stupid.

I remember being teased at about the age of 8 for never singing any of my favourite songs, then being teased more when I was made to do it and got the lyrics to my favourite Queen song wrong.

This memory has stuck with me, but I think I had a fear of being humiliated even before then. This fear meant I never put my hand up in class for fear of getting the answer wrong and looking stupid. Never putting my ideas and suggestions forward because I knew they’d be ridiculed. Never really voicing my views at all.

I would wonder how anyone could ever feel so self-assured as to act, sing or dance on stage, speak publicly, share their views in a blog or a book, or basically, put themselves in any position of vulnerability.

How can anyone ever have the confidence to do these things?

Don’t they know people will be laughing at them when they mess it up?

The cynical side of me, in the absence of self-confidence, wants to pronounce two types of confidence, misplaced and misleading.

Misplaced confidence is the confidence we have in ourselves when we don’t fully understand whatever it is we’re being confident about (a la Dunning-Kruger effect).

Misleading confidence is the act of confidence that we portray to convince others that we know what we’re talking about, even when we feel inside that we don’t really know for sure (a la imposter syndrome).

We’re either confident because we don’t know enough, or pretending to be confident because we know too much.

And yet, if we want to help people, if we want to try and make a difference on any kind of level, we need to have some self-confidence and we need to be able to portray confidence. No patient in their right mind is going to trust a surgeon who doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing.

Confidence is a sliding scale and the right amount of confidence varies for any given person or situation, but like everything else, there’s a balance between too much and too little.

A balance between understanding your limitations but being able to work towards them.

A balance between enabling others to have confidence in us whilst understanding we will always have more to learn.

A balance between being sharing our understandings and accepting that we may have misunderstood, or in turn may be misunderstood.

It took a long time to feel confident enough in myself to be open and share my view of the world. To break free from the fear of what others might say. I decided that if in some small way I may be able to help someone, then that outweighs the risk of my own potential embarrassment.

Though that doesn’t mean I’m about to don a mini skirt and fire up the vacuum on a music video.

I want to break free

I want to break free

I want to break free from your lies

Your something something eyes

I don’t need you

I’ve got to break free

Blog: 143

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