Just Like That: Moving Without Confidence
Confidence is not a necessary ingredient to getting things done. Actually, we get most things done without it.
I’ve never seen the point in jumping on the “New Year, New Me” bandwagon. On a social level, New Years’ is made out to be a “fresh start,” a “new beginning.” Personally, it feels like any other day. I don’t think it’s useful or healthy to attempt to turn ourselves around only once a year. Personal growth should be a habit. A New Years’ resolution is a great start for continual, long-term growth, but they usually aren’t sustainable. This is why this post wasn’t my first post of the year. I wanted some time to give myself a goal that was achievable and could start whenever I was ready. The goal I decided on is:
I will listen to the insecure voice that pops in my head, but I won’t give it weight.
In an interview with Roxanne Gay, “Roxanne Gay: ‘If I was waiting for confidence to write, I’d still be waiting,’” the title immediately implies confidence in one’s self and one’s writing is elusive and unreliable. The title also suggests the writing process is vulnerable and uncertain. Much of my writing process fills me with a recurrent cycle of this vulnerability and uncertainty, which caramelizes into a lack of confidence. Sometimes this confidence comes from feeling unprepared and overwhelmed by my topic to fearing I’m a shitty writer--among many other feelings of anxiety and insecurity. To know that someone as prolific as Roxanne Gay (I feel I must always refer to her by her whole name) feels the same way is both comforting and saddening. It’s important to know the struggle is universal, but it’s also unfortunate that this lack of self-trust and self-belief is an everyday reality. In an ideal world, we, women, would trust ourselves because we’re the only individual we know so thoroughly, back of hand, thighs, belly. Because of this overwhelming trust, we would have an unyielding belief in ourselves, too.
In this society—a rather unethical one based on making us as insecure as possible for many oppressive reasons like to buy things we don't need—the struggle with confidence crosses over into everything we do, like writing, teaching, speaking, breathing, eating, laughing, crying, angering. I even feel unconfident about walking having been kept from it in the last four months since I broke my leg. The prickling sense of self-doubt tarnishing each step.
“I’ve never waited for the confidence to do anything, because if I was waiting for confidence, I would still be waiting,” expounds Roxanne Gay. There’s so much to acting without thinking too much. I can’t think of an everyday situation where thoughtfulness and consideration aren’t welcomed. Yet, at one point in the thinking process, a boundary is crossed to the too much realm. As a chronic overthinker, I know this process well. There has to be some implicit self-belief that helps us turn off the over-thinking drive that allows us to act without confidence. That something is what Roxanne Gay points to, and that something is always us.
When British writer/interviewer Micah Frazer-Carol asks how a young writer finds their voice, Roxanne Gay replies, “It’s not necessarily something you find…It’s something that’s in you and you allow to emerge. Oftentimes people go looking here or looking there, instead of just recognising that they already have the voice, and they just need to use it.” Because of this, everything we need, our voice, our strength, our courage, is already within us. This is how Roxanne Gay and many of us can move forward without an explicit sense of confidence because we don’t need it when we use the tools we already have.
There is an innumerable amount of reasons for not doing the things we want to do. But, we don’t have to give these reasons weight. I’ve been successfully keeping the unconfident voice at bay. By successful, I mean, I hear it, but I keep from listening to it. Sometimes I begin to give in. I’ll give this surrendering a few minutes max. Then, I’ll start or pick up where I left off. Using this formula, I went on my first solo drive today. I was scared. But, I got into the car. Hurriedly turned it on and put it in reverse before the surrendering could set in. All I could think as I rolled into the street with my ache-y foot on the brake was, “It’s happening.” Just like that, I drove to lunch and to my first physical therapy appointment. Just like that, my life is returning back to normal. Just like that, is also how we get the first words on a page or paint on a canvas or the chaotic rhythms of a first job. Just like that.