How do we gain confidence? Do we learn it? Do we have it inheretly? As personal aspects go, confidence has to be one of the most decisive for the futere of an individual. Just think of the last time you screwed something up. Was it because of overconfidence or a lack there of? I would even argue that overconfidence is a cover for a lack of it...an act if you will.
When I was a kid, the first time I remember my confidence being tested was when my father took me to a wrestling class. I must have been about seven. We walk into the room where there are some kids that must have been a few years older than me. My dad talks to someone and then one of the older kids comes up to me. I'm standing on one of the mats. He says something to me, not aggressively but I'm not sure what he's talking about. The next thing I know, I'm on my back and he has me pinned. He's saying to me "Wrestle. Come on!" I have no idea what happened or what I'm supposed to do. All I know is I'm scared and I start to cry. My dad has a look on his face that can only be embarrassment. He helps me up. I'm unconsolable. I'm so embarrassed I can't think of staying. I demand that we leave. He never says a thing about it again.
My father was concerned about my feelings. He wanted me to be happy. How should a father react when his son is frightened and confused? It is at these crucial moments that confidence is gained or lost.
In my tweens I grew up to become a minor coward. I was always ready to prove the opposite. I got into a few fights, which were just enough to show I wasn't as afraid as I felt. I even built some confidence, that is until I got my ass kicked good by an eighth grader. I had on a one of those thick winter coats that restricts your mobility real good. He got me in a head lock by the bike racks and I still remember the feeling of his leather clad fist slamming repeatedly up into my face. I also remember the shame I felt when he laughed at my black eye and puffed lip when he passed me in the hall.
What I still feel good about though was the fact that I stood up to him. He wanted me to lock up his bike with mine but he had detention and I didn't. I knew he was one of the toughest guys in the school, not to mention a grade ahead of me. Most often, our greatest successes are hidden in failure. To give it your all, regardless of the outcome, is what matters. That's confidence.
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