IBQ Prompt: Confidence

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate it.

Enjoy the long weekend off. Here’s a thought to cheer up parents of school age children, considering they’ve been in their holidays for two weeks already (or they have here). Remember, only a few more days and the little darlings are back at school. Give them the chocolate then send them to play outside, it’s almost summer, they can wear a coat, the rain won’t do them any harm 🙂 Personally I don’t celebrate Easter, or not the Christian one at least. And I’m working three of the four days. Today is my day off, because most of the factory is shut for the day, so I thought I’d get some writing done. I’ve been a little lax on the writing front recently. This weeks IBQ
prompt is about confidence. I’ve been thinking about it for the last day or so. I’ve asked myself questions, trying to discover if I have anything to add to the convention. Personally, I don’t feel that I do.

What is ‘confidence’?

A feeling of assurance, knowing that I can do this, whatever ‘this’ happens to be, because I have the skills, experience, talent etc, and that other people acknowledge and respect that.

Where am I confident?

Huh, really, I’m not, ever. It’s a front, all of it. I might think I can do some ‘thing’ well, but one remark, deliberately or interpreted as, that’s negative, and I lose it all. I start questioning myself and end up convinced I’m an idiot who should never leave the house again, or worse, should never have bothered with life. It’s not healthy, but fragile confidence and depression seem to go hand in hand, for me.

Why do I lack confidence?

The problem is the part of the equation that relies on other people to acknowledge my worth. My confidence should
be based on my competence, not other people’s perceptions of my competence. But it isn’t. I care about what other people think. Until I can truthfully say I don’t care about otherpeople’s opinions about me then I won’t have much confidence.

When will that be?

I don’t know. I know I’m making progress though. I never had much confidence; years of being bullied for being overweight, tall, wearing glasses, intelligent, bookish, quiet, weirdetc knocked any confidence out of me. Being introverted makes it difficult to deal with large groups; school was hell. I work best on my own, with defined parameters, so long as I can go off on a tangent is that’s where the trail leads. In a large state secondary school that sort of thing isn’t encouraged. Plus kids are vile to each other. Almost fifteen years after finishing compulsory education I still carry around my mental baggage, that I need to fit in or other people will make my life hell. And that I deserved this torment because I persist in not conforming to norms about my looks, my life path, my friends etc.

But I’m making progress, like I said, with the long perspective. I’ve grown up, there are people in the world who put up with me despite my oddness, and I’ve come to realise something. Everyone, teenagers especially, are struggling to fit in to perceived social norms. One way to ‘fit in’ is to choose some trait you are not, and that is definitely not considered normal, and find someone less confident to bully. It’s a distraction from your own perceived shortcomings.

Some attitude readjustment has occurred in myself. In some things other people’s opinions don’t matter. I can live my life any damn way I please. The only person who can tell me that I need to lose weight is my doctor, and that’s only for a medical reason. Other people’s aesthetics be damned.

That’s only in my ‘not work’ time though. Work is not fantastic. I feel confident, I can do my job competently, quickly and fairly well. That is until someone makes a fairly harmless remark. Example: Monday and Tuesday were my days off, the QAs asked for cover from the agency. I go in Wednesday and the woman I work with can’t stop going on about how good thewoman who covered my job was. It’s good that they’ve found someone who can do the job when we need cover but her tone and attitude implied I wasn’t good enough anymore. It knockedmy confidence a lot. I felt like saying “Any time you want to stop stamping all over what little self-confidence I have, that’ll be fine with me”. I almost did twice. But I didn’t, they’d take it the wrong way. I just want to do my job without feeling like I was there on sufferance, because they feel obliged or can’t be bothered to train anyone else.

This lack of confidence in the sphere of work extends not just to my current job but to future jobs. I go to interviews determined to put on a brave face, and bollocks it up in thefirst few seconds when all my confidence leaves, I forget that I do actually know what I’m doing and I become a shaky, stuttering mess. Panel interviews are worse than being interviewed by just one person. More people to deal with, more people to hate me.

Writing, something you’d imagine I was quite confident about, is another area I lack confidence. I’m convinced people do not like my writing. That I’m not very good. That my arguments are weak or badly written. That my reviews are uninteresting or unhelpful. I could have got my second draft finished by now, but that would mean I’d have to let other people see it and that I’d be a step closer to the decision to publish or not. It scares me. I should have confidence in my work, shouldn’t I?

By identifying these areas as stumbling blocks for my confidence I can put in place strategies to help when my negative, confidence destroying thoughts and behaviour patterns are triggered.

How will I increase my confidence in these areas?

A dear friend has suggested that just as soon as I realise people are awful, judgmental, gits (except she wasn’t that polite) then I’ll make progress. I am not that despairing of mankind; I still have hope that people are generally decent but are limited by their own self-confidence problems or their ignorance and prejudices. It always comes as a shock when people do something unexpectedly unpleasant.

This digression is not quite as irrelevant as it appears. It follows from these internalized beliefs, that people are generally good,  then if people I work with think negatively of my work and abilities then they must be correct.

As with ‘not work’ aspects of ny life I need to readjust my perceptions and thought patterns. I have to challenge negative thoughts, poking and prodding then to find their origin. Knowing the cause will help. I also need to remind myself of the compliments I’ve received, rather than the times people have been unpleasant.

Most of all I need to separate my self-confidence and self-worth from other people’s perceptions.

There will always be people who will pull down others, and seek to destroy the confidence of others, for whatever reason. All I can do is be aware of that, and bulwark my fragile confidence against them.

Just don’t ask me to go to a party full of strangers. I don’t do parties.

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