Until we conquer ourselves we may never conquer the world and the best way to do that is to practice the art of self-mastery.
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
– Sun Tzu
I had errands to run, things I had been procrastinating for weeks. I always found an excuse to not do them, perhaps due to laziness or their triviality. But you know what they say; procrastinators eventually get tired. When I could no longer talk myself out of being an adult, I finally got out of my house and onto the streets. Some of things I had to do required human interaction while some didn’t. I had planned to start with the ones that required my engagement in small talk and office gossip before the others as I prefer completing difficult tasks first.
On my way, I took a look in the mirror and noticed an inconspicuous flaw – my hideous eyebrows. I didn’t think they were terrible when I was at home but at that point, they looked like they hadn’t been groomed in months. I gasped in terror. All I could think about was the number of times I had paid attention to people’s brows and ran extensive commentaries in my head. Now, the favour was going to be returned. The more I looked at them, the closer I came to asking the driver to take me home. For something so trivial, I was indeed worried; ready to cancel everything I had to do. There was no way I was going through my day interacting with people when every glance and knowing smile thrown at me would be interpreted wrongly. I quickly came to the realization that a career in forensic medicine wouldn’t have been a terrible idea – I was able to spot a million other flaws in a millisecond. I could see them all – magnified!
My mind tried to tell me I was silly, but you see, shame is a very strong emotion, one that is very hard to overcome. It can overwhelm you and erase all rational thinking. And in a split second, decisions that would have a catastrophic impact on your life would be made. Therefore, it is always good to never make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions. Emotions are fleeting.
There are a number of times our tiny imperceptible flaws have seemed so gigantic to us that we try desperately to hide them. From the tiny zits on our foreheads, the patches on our skin to even the sound of our laughter. These things in many ways have affected our confidence. The knowledge that our flaws are only as visible as we make them is lost on us, as far as we are concerned the world looks at us through magnifying glasses, carefully looking for errors, proof of our imperfection. It is therefore worth noting that most times no one notices these flaws until we point them out. Like us, the rest of humanity is solely concerned about their own flaws.
Returning home wouldn’t have been a strange act to me, it was something I was used to doing. Cancelling events at the last minute because I didn’t like the way my body looked in my dress or because I just didn’t feel pretty enough to be seen by people. Whatever my excuse was, it was justifiable. But behind my solid excuses was the obvious truth – I just wasn’t confident enough and I cared too much about the opinion of others.
Confidence is something we would all like to have. The freedom it offers, the joy it brings and the undeniable respect and admiration of others. Yet it eludes us, not because of our lack of tenacity but because of our lack of understanding. It can never be found in lavish praises from friends or even enemies. Nor is it hidden underneath our desire to please the world. It is rooted deeply in the firm belief that we are enough, flawed but perfect.
A skill, when repeatedly practiced correctly becomes a talent, and being confident is such a skill. Fortunately, most of the work is mental and once the bulk of it is done, it becomes a walk in the park. If there’s anyone that we should try to convince of our worth, it should be us, ourselves. Our validation as much as possible should come from us and not external elements because external validation no matter how flattering will never make us whole.
Something so attainable shouldn’t be rare. Its rarity proves how greatly misunderstood the concept is. A confident person isn’t proud, boastful or egocentric. Confidence should never be mistaken with arrogance. Confidence is silent, insecurities are loud. But timidity does not equate humility either. You do not have to walk with your shoulders bent and your head lowered to show humility.
It has been said that confidence is attractive. Truly it is! One of the reasons why, is because it makes us approachable. It’s simply charming. The open body language, the smile in our eyes and the joy in our gait. It isn’t that we have all we want or we are where we want to be, but the belief that we will get there because we are on the right track is what makes us sparkle. Besides, who doesn’t like things that glitter?