Confidence has always been celebrated as a desirable character trait–and why wouldn’t it be? When someone exudes confidence, they seem both magnetic and untouchable. But the word “confident” has become twisted lately as society tells you to “be confident” while removing what truly matters from the equation: self-assurance.
See, there are two types of confident people. The first one is the sociable, charming person who draws people in because they are so certain of their abilities, do not fear confrontation, and come off easygoing. However, these days, this version has been warped into a harmful version that borders on–or even just dives right into–the realm of pure cockiness. Someone thinks because they are being outspoken, loud, and confrontational, they are being confident. Being confident in your abilities does not mean that you always have something to say that is worth listening to, that being louder means being heard, or that you are perfect at what you do–being confident includes knowing your faults but accepting and working on them.
Overconfidence can also be a sign of overcompensation for insecurities these days. We see fans fawn over their favorite celebrities because they seem so confident on stage or on screen and tell off their haters (over and over and over again), but if they were truly confident, meaning self-assured, would they feel the need to continuously address the people who are pointing out their flaws (and wasting everyone’s time)? Whether haters are just hating or people are actually making valid points, it’s up to the targets of such criticism to decide what matters and how to react, and how they react shows how confident they actually are. If they are criticized by people who sound bitter and weary, then accept that they are having a bad day, ignore them, and move on for your own sake. If they are criticized by people who genuinely want to address personal faults, then listen to them attentively and make adjustments that you agree on, because confident doesn’t mean perfect.
“Self-assured” is self-explanatory in that anyone who can be described as such would not constantly take personal offense at the opinions of others. Of course there will be times here and there when they will get fed up after constant abuse and make a remark or write out a long letter. It’s totally understandable! If you feel completely misunderstood, you want to explain yourself to those who hunt you from behind closed doors. But the ones who are constantly on the defensive are the ones who feel that who they are and how they behave are not strong enough defenses alone. The need to explain themselves shows an underlying need for validation, to be liked. It’s an act of convincing not only others but the self that they are in the right and are perfectly fine the way they are. There is no trust in the self, or even liking of the self, and if there’s none of that, how is there any real confidence? It’s easier to act more confident than anyone actually is, because sometimes faking it feels like moving one step closer to actualization–but it can be a slippery slope down the wrong hill, and it can do more harm than good, especially with failure to recognize what the true end game is.
The second type of confident people is what I want to focus on. When you’re told, “Be confident,” you picture yourself expertly negotiating a salary, confronting somebody who is being unfair to you, walking down the street like a model, and more. Your thoughts on confidence had been shaped and limited by what’s been sensationalized in media. That’s why I want to show you a different kind of confidence. I want to celebrate and give this second type the praise that they deserve when they often go under the radar (not that they care, which is the point). Because there’s no fanfare around them. There’s no dressing up and parading around. They’re relatively unnoticed. But they’re still respected; it’s just that no one recognizes these people’s aura as the “confident” one that society today emphasizes whenever they can. As a matter of fact, when looking up the word “confident” for a picture, I got a bunch of images of men and women in business suits and shiny smiles. Maybe it’s because today’s society is such a huge lover of extroversion, and this second type tends to be more introverted.
This is because the second type completely captures the essence of quiet self-assurance; they’re the ones who do not seem as bold or as fierce as the first type. They are not always the ambitious go-getters, the sociable party hosts, or the thoughtful debaters. They are the ones that others find themselves respecting without really knowing why. The reason they’re so admirable is that they have a quiet confidence, which results in the same type of allure but in a more subdued fashion. They are the ones who are so certain of who they are, as well as aware of their weaknesses and strengths, that they do not feel the need to be so loud or confrontational. They are happy just accepting that “it is what it is,” living their lives, doing what they do, behaving how they behave without constantly thinking of how all of this reflects on the people around them. You look at them… and they just seem whole.
The confident know who they are, they feel no need to answer to others who question them, and they know to ignore those who try to plant a seed of doubt within them.
This doesn’t mean they are giving up on their faults; they try to improve on them, but they don’t fight or deny them. Rather, they acknowledge them and feel no shame about them. And this is truly amazing. Because it’s nearly impossible to not care what others think at all–not even for one minute of the day. Even as I’m writing this, I’m bogged down by self-doubt, like, “Does this make sense? Am I being preposterous?” And it’s extraordinarily difficult for people to come to terms with the fact that they are not perfect (Hey, is my writing impeccable yet? No? Damn, why do I even try?!).
Being so calm and assured of one’s own worth without having to constantly prove it to other people–this is incredibly rare. This is borderline miraculous. But sometimes they get misread as weak. As slow. As unintelligent. As passive, like that’s a negative thing. However, having a quiet confidence does not mean any of that. It means that the person doesn’t need to be told that they are right. They don’t need to constantly prove how intelligent or talented they are. They don’t care how likable they are to those who don’t even know them. Their eyes might seem mild and gentle, rather than bright and keen, but there is a sense of wisdom within. They are the people driving the speed limit right at 25 mph with utter calmness. They’re not bothered by the impatient people tailgating them or even honking at them, because they are at peace with who they are, what they’re like, and how they act. Inching along and causing traffic, they don’t let anything on the outside bother them on the inside. They’ve perfected that balance of not giving a f*ck and being considerate.
To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with either type of confidence–if you look at the original meaning of confidence anyway, not the modern, skewed version of the first type. They are just different. The first type is a coursing river that knows its path and thunders toward it free of inhibitions, dancing around the rocks in its way and against the jumping fish. The second type is like a placid lake that is at peace with where it is. There may be a ripple here or a ripple there, but nothing much disturbs it, and it languidly rests where it feels it belongs.
Either way, the truly confident have so much faith in themselves without being arrogant that not much can move them from the outside. The sturdier the foundation, the stronger the building. The confident know who they are, they feel no need to answer to others who question them, and they know to ignore those who try to plant a seed of doubt within them.
Assure yourself that you’re great.
There isn’t a need to constantly show how confident you are to others. Not saying you can’t strut your stuff or walk with your head held high, but it’s not so much about looking good in a miniskirt, telling off haters, or trying to up someone else like media tries to portray confidence to be. If you are the fiercely confident self, then be your fierce, confident, awesome self. You can be the talkative one who thinks your opinions are worth airing out for the sake of having an awesome conversation as well as discovering new perspectives and where you might be wrong. If you are the wisely confident self, then be your wise, confident, awesome self. You can be the quiet thinker who is always perfecting your craft in solitude, the one people listen to when you decide to speak up because you do so without aggression or selfishness.
So what does it really mean to be confident? To be self-assured. To be comfortable in your own skin. To be you. So just be you. Assure yourself that you’re great. That you can do whatever you set your mind on. That you will find your own path in life. That you will learn from mistakes and grow from hardships. Let the haters hate, the doubters doubt, the toxic intoxicate themselves with their own poison. None of that matters so long as you love yourself in all the right ways. Mold yourself; don’t be molded in the hands of others. Then, you will exude a confidence from deep within yourself.
And damn, that’s magnetic.