The Confidence of Certainty

I’m not great at being sure of things. I wish I were. I feel like it would help me, a lot. I know people who are perpetually sure. About what they’re doing in life, who they are, what they want, what they don’t want, where they stand…

I’m just… not.

That’s not to say I’m completely wishy-washy. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more sure about some things. Mostly stances. For the most part my opinions haven’t changed, but my confidence in them has.

If I knew I felt a certain way about something but didn’t know why, I would avoid it conversationally. I was always afraid of being questioned or directly challenged and not knowing what to say. Over time, I learned more. I researched the issues I had gut reactions to and took the time to learn why I felt the way I do. I found the supporting evidence, and learned a bit about why people feel differently than me. Once I started doing that, I found myself more comfortable talking about things with others. Specifically, people I wasn’t close to. I mean, talking to your friends (who largely feel the same way you do) is easy. I’m talking about other people, who may or may not hold your opinion, and who may or may not want to grill you on yours.

There’s something about being able to defend or explain your opinions and feelings in an intelligent way that just breeds confidence. I don’t mind talking to anyone about my feelings on god/religion, reproductive rights, marriage equality, etc., because I know exactly what I think and why I think it. I can defend my position. I know the counter-arguments, I know why I disagree with them, I can do more than shrug my shoulders and say, “It’s just how I feel.”

Not that my feelings aren’t valid in and of themselves. They totes are.

It was an interesting correlation to notice, though. That my confidence about whatever was directly linked to how strongly and certainly I thought/felt that. It made me think back through, well, everything.

I thought about how many times I was angry with someone but didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure I was justified or had the right to be mad. I thought about whenever I didn’t stand up for myself because I wasn’t certain I deserved whatever it was I wanted to ask for. Things I’ve witnessed that I let slide because I wasn’t confident that it was my place to say something.

You hear that? That was the sound of my brain exploding.

I hear people talk all the time about wishing they were more confident in themselves. By and large I think it’s something we all struggle with. We all have doubts and fears and insecurities. And for some reason most of us seem to think that the way to achieve that confidence is to change the things about ourselves that give us pause. If I just lost 30lbs, or had a more impressive resume, or were funnier/smarter/hotter/whatever.

What if the key to confidence isn’t change, but certainty? Knowing exactly who you are and accepting that. Not as a concession, but because if you can’t accept yourself how can you ask anyone else to? Whether it’s a project you’re trying to get off the ground, new nonmonogamy, a stance on an issue, a kink, a career path, a set of principles… fucking anything, dudes.

I might be wrong on this one, sure. But I think I might be on to something too.

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