My confidence has been pointed out to me on …well I can only remember three occasions. Once during a career foundations course where I went to the toilet and when I got back, I found out that I was ‘nominated’ by my peers (strangers, same table, thank you very much) to be on the receiving end of a phone call by the prof. I call him prof, but he’s actually the region head for VISA doing some sort of pro bono career work with us final year students. I forgot how the interview went but I know two things- I forgot what career paths my major had during the interview (which essentially feels like standing up to give a speech and then realising you forgot to zip your pants), and he told me I kept repeating “to be honest”. To be honest, I didn’t notice. But my friend in the same class told me later that I sounded confident and knowledgeable, even though I don’t remember anything about what I said, except that when the phone call ended I wanted to bury my head into the cement floor and leave my butt sticking out.
The same for internships. Bosses have commented that I tend to jump the gun, but also acknowledge my confidence. And despite my lack of content knowledge, motivation, procedural knowledge yada yada, I am a confident person (to them). That got me thinking what exactly is confidence? Is it only present when I am excited about the subject? Or want to prove myself so badly that I have to say something, even if that something is rubbish?
Which leads to the third occasion- I had a presentation- two of them, actually- for a class in the first semester of year two. That was the semester in which I wore coke bottle glasses and had chicken pox scars all over, because I am an unlucky person who gets chicken pox midway through the semester. In the second semester I had a groupmate from that class. She told me that she thought I ad-libbed through the presentation, had no script, and was a great presenter. I told her that I memorised the f*ck of out the script because I have zero presentation skills. So I was confident, but that was because I knew exactly what I had to say. And by preparation I mean sitting my imaginary soft toys up on the bed and pacing around the room like I was going to give an introduction to the Oscars, telling them about focus groups and why focus groups are badly conducted in the real world.
By the way, I felt very inspired by Ellen Degeneres while preparing for presentations. It reminded me that it is okay to be gay, highly attractive, and a complete failure without a university degree. I am not sure if I qualify for the second but there’s always the option of being confident, I’ve heard that it can hide physical flaws.
What exactly is confidence, and why do people see me as being confident when I either don’t know what am I saying, or I know exactly what I am saying but can’t deviate from that script. What is this unknown quality, how can I get more of it, and is being too confident a bad thing? If I sound confident but inside am a nervous wreck, does that mean that I am faking it? So many questions, but only Augusten Burroughs has the answers. Yes I watch/listen to/read a lot of gay creators, I wonder what does that say about me.
“Confidence is a reduction of your own interest in whether others are thinking about you and if so, what they’re thinking.”
― Augusten Burroughs, This Is How
As we get older, we gain experience and begin to notice that most of these things have little lasting impact on our lives. Those people’s opinions we cared about so much before have long been removed from our lives. We’ve found the love we need and so those embarrassing romantic rejections cease to mean much anymore. We realize how little people pay attention to the superficial details about us and we focus on doing things more for ourselves rather than for others.
-Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck
This reminds me of my first lesson in university this semester. I was new to that university (local exchange), I knew no one there, and I had a raging, burning, terrible stomach pain at 8am in the morning. I entered the class, sat on the left side of the class, and was told by the teaching assistant to sit on the right side of the class. So I shifted my bag and my barang barang, tried to be as inconspicuous as possible while being 1.68m tall and slightly overweight.
When I got there the prof started talking and asked me to introduce myself and I was like “sure, I am Jessica, from lalalala” and then after it ended she went “okay so you are an exchange student” and I immediately thought “shit, she identified me. They are going to think that I am a mugger with no friends and this is social suicide!”
And then I thought, well, I am a mugger, there’s nothing wrong about that statement. A true statement of fact. Okay, life goes on. I shall listen to the class except that where I was seated, I couldn’t see the screen. So I had to take my barangbarang and move noisily to another place, and I thought “man I am screwed. Everyone just judged me.”
But after a while, I settled in. I was just uncomfortable with the new room and the new smell of the place, I was scared by all the new faces. But I didn’t lose my confidence because I thought – they can judge me, they can ignore me, they can forget about me. It doesn’t matter.
And indeed, it didn’t. I made friends in that lesson, and everyone just looks like they are attending a fashion show, they don’t actually have (I’m sorry to say) that much content in them as I thought they would have. The funniest comment was still
A student: (gives example)
Prof: That was the example I gave last week.
Oh well. Confidence. Click on the link above and read it. Not GAF is a great way to lead a life, it can be scary because it is a new way of thinking and doing things.