So much of our confidence is informed by evidence.
Every success, failure, romance, heartbreak, deliciously baked cake and inexplicably burnt fish finger contributes to our perception of our right to be deemed a worthwhile human being.
But we’re an unreliable witness to our own lives. It’s very hard for us to see the bigger picture – that, actually, on balance, we’re doing alright. OK, we’re not nailing it in the removing-a-cake-from-the-tin-without-it-breaking-in-two department, and our sewing skills leave a lot to be desired, but we have friends and they don’t care. A cake is still a cake, and they would very much like to eat it.
Our confidence is boosted and knocked down relentlessly – though often unintentionally – by all the people we interact with – friends, family, colleagues, that lady at the station who sometimes says she likes my hair and sometimes doesn’t. On a daily basis we can leap from thinking we’re the coolest kid on the block to the world’s biggest moron as many times as we go to the bathroom (which in my case is quite a lot. It’s important to keep hydrated).
What we need more than evidence is belief; belief in ourselves as people that are worthy of good things – of kind treatment, nice times, and a second chance at proving that we can remember to grease the cake tin first. We need that base level of confidence so that if somebody does question our choice of jeans or job or fails to laugh at our joke in which we hilariously replaced the word ‘awkward’ with ‘orchid’, we know we’re still alright. It needn’t shake us too hard.
Being in a relationship can do wonders for your confidence. Regardless of the story you told them almost knocking yourself out on the way to a McFly concert because you were just SO. EXCITED, or using an aerosol can instead of a hammer to construct a bedside table, they think you’re interesting enough to sometimes justify turning off the X-Box mid-game. And that feels good (though discovering that there’s actually just been a power cut feels less good).
But the risk is that, if you’d not yet managed to come to the conclusion by yourself that you were a worthwhile human being before they came along and told you so, you might forget to make sure you actually believe it. You might let yourself think that it’s that person who justifies you, instead of you.
Having somebody who loves you gives you some marvellous evidence to add to the case for your confidence – I recommend that you pin it to the wall and point at it daily. And you each have a huge role to play in giving the other a much needed boost every now and then (as discussed last week in my chat about the importance of pep talks), but for that to stick, you’ve got to have your own firm layer of confidence to start from. Otherwise, what are you going to do when they’re out? Or when you socialise without them? Or when you’re telling your orchid joke for the fifteenth time and people are STILL not laughing?
Oh yes, be buoyed, be supported, be delighted by their belief in you – hell, have a bloody massive grin about it for it is the greatest thing – but be sure to make time to take a strong dose of it for yourself too.
Because otherwise, in a fight between you and a broken cake or a burnt fish finger, it’s going to be them that wins. And we both know that you deserve better than that.