Confidence is overrated

I squirm in my chair as I write this post, but many times before I have been told that I am a very confident girl and asked many times how to achieve this level of confidence. Yet, I cannot help but question it.

It’s funny, because confidence was apparently a problem for me in high school. I read my old report cards one evening and I was shocked to find a comment left by my teacher that read: 

“Marinella is encouraged to develop greater confidence in herself and her leadership ability."

Well, fuck! I do not remember this – Actually, let me express myself differently; I do not remember someone figuring me out.

We are always told to be confident; Stand up straight, see past your critics and believe in yourself, but I’d like to break tradition and argue the opposite (and I'm not implying low self-esteem), that humility is a useful tool and confidence can be overrated.

Many of us would agree that confidence is the key ingredient of success, when in fact, too much confidence can blind you from acknowledging your own faults, weaknesses or ignorance. Learning needs to start from a place of ignorance, and you cannot do that when you already know what is best.

"Feeling good", does not increase the probability of being good, plus it doesn't even serve those who have it, so there's no point trying to increase it – Chamorro-Premuzic

Faked confidence will always backlash. People with low self-esteem can go from thinking they are the sh*t to feeling miserable, all after a minor mistake. It's kinda' like building a house without a foundation, it won’t create a stable structure. Similarly, building up your ego without the foundation of competence and skills can lead to an emotional collapse.

For those who lack or glut confidence, I challenge you to:

  • Talk less during your next conversation and just absorb what the other person is saying. Probe them for information and really learn from them. It is amazing what people know if you stop to listen.
  • Try a completely new activity in the next few days. As a quiet introvert, I joined my boyfriends fitness bootcamp and boxing classes on a whim. Now I love it and I feel amazing too.
  • Stay curious, focus on being more observant, be open to new possibilities and don't take yourself too seriously. If you are too sure that you have all the answers, you might not find new ones.
     

I promise you, "Just low enough" confidence is a boon, and we should stay sceptical of those who have it in buckets; it frees you from the dangers of overoptimism, stops you ignoring negative feedback, keeps you motivated to acquire skills and makes you appear more genuine.


Photography: Justin Fox