You know how you have different kinds of friends? Some friends are good for ranting with. Some friends are good for drinking with. Some friends are good for insane stories and memory creation. Some friends are great company for the memory lane luxury tour – leaves every 2 hours and please don’t eat in the bus. And some friends are great at solving the world’s problems.
You know the type. You can sit for hours and solve every injustice and issue under the sun, all over a couple of bottles of champagne. Of course, when you examine the conversational corpse residing in your head the next day you find that most of it has rotted away in the champagne haze and a lot of what is left is utter dribble. But there were maybe three good points. Cling to those.
The other day I had an interesting conversation with one of these friends about confidence. What is confidence? How do we get it? I’m pretty sure it’s a bit of an illusion. How often do you talk with someone and find out about everything they love and what their plans and dreams are, only to end the conversation with the disappointing realisation that they’re not actually doing anything about this they’re just waiting until the time is right and they know what they’re doing and they have the confidence to do it.
This is pretty much everyone’s story. It’s your story. It’s my story. It’s Carl from down the road’s story. We’re all stupid.
Confidence doesn’t work like that. Confidence isn’t just going to come knocking at your door once random Thursday and announce that “it’s time!”. Confidence isn’t something you have. It’s something that other people think you have, when you’re too busy getting on with the task at hand to be bothered being self conscious. If you start telling people how confident and self assured you are, chances are they won’t believe you. Because if you were really confident it wouldn’t occur to you to talk about it because you’d be too busy kicking arse.
It’s better to be in the deep end and learning than standing by the sidelines passively dreaming. Usually. I mean, don’t jump straight into brain surgery. Maybe do all the proper training first. But if proper training is what you need, jump into it and do it. Don’t sit and admire and wait until you have the ‘confidence’ to do it.
The truly frustrating thing about this is that you can’t see it happening to you. But you can see it with crystal clarity when it happens to those you love. You can see the wasted potential. You see their talent and abilities and want to shake them when they don’t do anything because they lack confidence. You want to force them to just start doing it without their beloved confidence and see what bloody happens. But you can’t. Then you get to watch as people with lesser abilities succeed because they were actually proactive.
Basically, what I’m asking is, if you have dreams, what are you doing to act on them now? And how does that evolve over time? If you have dreams you need to start acting on them within the next 20 minutes. Even if it’s just something small. Even if you’re scared. Hell, especially if you’re scared. Be scared while you’re doing it – it’s called multitasking. Take small, reasoned steps if it’s easier, but just take them.
If you don’t quite have your dreams sorted yet but think you might like to have dreams once you figure out what you want to do when you grow up, you’re not off the hook. You still need to be doing something. Do a thing that teaches you something. At worst you’ll learn not to do that anymore as it doesn’t make you happy. It will still narrow down your choices and you’ll be a more interesting person.
Failing is fine as most people will be too wrapped up in themselves to truly notice. They’ll just figure that this is just another part of your learning journey. Which it is. As long as you’re a kind person they’ll even be more inclined to lend a hand and help you out if you’re failing. No one will do that if you’re just sitting around doing nothing. Because they won’t feel like they’re contributing to a winning plan. But if you’re actively moving, that’s different.
This is waaaaay easier said than done. I’ve been procrastinating this point for ages, which is precisely what I just said not to do. I am a big hypocrite. But hey, I have champagne. Sometimes that can help.
I used to be terrified of going places where I didn’t know anyone. I mean, I could go places by myself, go to the theatre by myself, eat by myself and generally be alone. But if I had to go somewhere to socialise with other people I didn’t know I would actively turn down invitations. Which meant that I missed a lot of opportunities. It eventually meant that invitations would stop coming my way. So, I put on my masochistic hat and forced myself to accept more invitations.
Sometimes I was heading to places where the people I would be socialising with also didn’t know anyone else. We were all in the same boat. Frankly, I was amazed that I could get through several hours with strangers and not once did they all gather in a circle around me chanting “you don’t belong here, bitch!”. Hell, they may have all been thinking it, but they didn’t say it out loud, Individually or in unison. And that’s all I ask.
So now people think I’m confident enough to walk into parties and start talking to strangers. It still makes me uncomfortable, but I can do it because I know I’ve done it before and the world kept turning. One step at a time, people, that’s all it takes.
If you have dreams and friends / family / acquaintances / pets keep pestering you as to why you’re not following them yet, I think you should just make a move. Confidence will catch you up.
Trust me. I’ve achieved nothing.