Building confidence through folly
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I’ve always been shy and timid, never really sure whether to raise my voice or engage in public conversation, in fear of being mocked or called silly.
I have always been afraid to engage in honest conversation in which others get a chance to hear what’s really going on in my head.
I’ve always been told by others that to be more confident, one should break out of their comfort zone, be bolder when speaking to others; ‘speak up more’ and ‘don’t give a damn’ what other people think.
But these ways of communicating with others never really worked for me (on their own).
Recently, I’ve been listening to the wisdom of contemporary philosopher and writer: Alain de Botton, who has another approach in mind when dealing with our inner shyness and self-contempt.
To solve our shyness, Alain proposes that we should dare to look for the universal commonalities between us and the seemingly different stranger who we are interacting with; all of us will have moments of stupidity in our lives, contain secret anxieties, and have experienced many disappointments; ‘when pricked, we all start to bleed’.
It’s easy to think we have been singled out by the universe, a disgrace and an unmatched weirdo, who has nothing decent or valuable to say – but by definition we all have our unique identities as an individual, and can all offer consolation and reassurance to our fellow human beings that we are not alone in this world of grief and melancholy.
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Confidence is gained through the acceptance of our flaws: As humans we make mistakes, we mess up, we say stupid things which we regret. But confidence does not come to those who have escaped the confines of idiocy and stupidity, but to those who have gracefully accepted – with dignity – that there is no other alternative.
I’ve found that people don’t like to listen to endless streams of ‘look at how good my life is’ but instead prefer a consoling dose of vulnerability – as humans I believe we each yearn for confirmation that we aren’t uniquely damned and disgraced, we want to hear the stories of people mucking up, making wrong decisions and falling short of anything perfect – not because we’re evil and wish others to fail, but rather because we wish to feel like mistakes and failure aren’t one of our unique attributes.
In short, the more you can expose your vulnerabilities, let down your guard, lower the barricades and false pretences, the more confident you become – for one logical reason.
Through the assumption that our tainted, dark inner lives are not exclusive to us but all of humanity, we can let down our guard and risk our ego being scratched, in the hope that others will in turn do the same – it's a risk we must take for intimacy to occur.