I hope the week has started well for you and thank you to all those who downloaded Rufus Garlic’s free ebooks this weekend.
I may have mentioned before that now I have more time to write and blog I’m going back to my list of topics that have lain dormant for quite some time and posting on issues as and when they feel right. There is no particular order to it, if something new comes up then I will write about that on the day, but otherwise I have a long random list to get through. Some I could write about, or update my views on every few months, as I’m sure my opinion may change as my knowledge and experience develops, casting a different light on what I have said previously. Anyway, if I repeat myself occasionally I hope no one notices…
It seems to me I can divide my adult life into two sections, the first being a confident young man but lacking any particular sense of self-belief, and the second a man with a secure sense of self-belief but not much confidence. This is a writing blog so let’s keep in mind I have that as the main focus but of course I accept that I cannot separate myself into neat distinct sections, it all rolls into the same person, me being me.
I want to make a distinction between confidence (Online Dictionary: http://bit.ly/1h6oxMC) and self-belief (Online Dictionary: http://bit.ly/1h6oxMC) because although there are two extremely closely related definitions, I want to make sure you know what I mean. To me, confidence is a sense of being ready for the moment, an ability to undertake challenges and risks regardless of whether you believe you will come out victorious, to enjoy the challenge for itself. The challenge doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary, it can be as simple as walking out of your front door to go to the shops, ringing a friend to ask for something, to walk into a bar or restaurant you have never been in before, all the way to competing at a high level in sport or taking control in an executive boardroom and not feeling scared, intimidated or self-conscious, or perhaps feelings those things but having control over them so that you do it anyway, or at least make an attempt to. You may have good knowledge on a subject and feel that should you be questioned on it you are ready to answer, or you may not have good knowledge but are ready to be tackled regardless even if you do not pull off the pretense.
I would say that when I was younger (let’s keep this to being an adult, school days are a whole different kettle of smelly hormonal fish) I was confident because I had the sense that I wanted to be part of the world I was surrounded by, I wanted to take on challenges and I went further by undertaking these challenges and putting myself in positions where I had to go ahead with them. I feared failure and humiliation like most people but I didn’t care for them so should I fail at something I was always positive about it. For instance, I enjoyed training in boxing and kickboxing when I was younger (I will get on to shortly my views on self-belief and this may give you a hint) but never thought I would be a world champion but never the less I did go into the ring on a few amateur occasions. Did I think my fighting career would go anywhere? No. Never. I did not believe I had what it took to go all the way. However, I wanted the experience and the sense of participating in that world so I did it anyway (there’s a short story coming about that you may not be surprised to hear).
There are countless areas I look back on: applying for jobs, asking girls out, travelling, living alone, gambling, sports and I could go on where I felt that I had great confidence but the juxtaposition of not having self belief meant that I think I always felt there was a time limit to the experience, a gnawing sense of having whatever it was taken away from me at some point. Let me go on to explain my view on self-belief.
I have always envied people with self-belief because I associate it with people who tend to not see, ignore or be oblivious to, negative outcomes or even better and more importantly in my view (to save them from arrogance and self-delusion) know the problems ahead but are convinced they can overcome them with hard work and dedication. Self-belief can drive you forward with purpose and a sense of destiny that you equate to success with the particular goal you have, it may be a small goal in the scheme of global megalomania or it could be total galactic domination. I don’t want to say it is connected with narcissism or self-absorption because I have no justification for that, so although what I am saying seems to veer on to that, it is not intended. For instance, in the examples I gave above I had the confidence to do those things not because I felt I was the best person in the world for that particular job, not because I felt I was the best looking man in the room, not because I felt I had the right to be in another country, not because I felt I was capable of running my own household, not because I felt I would win (you can say that again) and not because I felt I was the best athlete…I simply wanted to do it. I just enjoyed myself. I didn’t believe in myself particularly, I just had confidence to try. There was no drive internally instructing me to achieve some lofty goal, I didn’t feel that I deserved anything or would be given anything, it is a difficult explanation to give. I felt I had traits of being a hard worker, a nice person with genuine honesty and a positive approach to life and I always felt that things would fall into place and ‘just be’ rather than any destiny I was owed or I could achieve.
So after all that, I would say now, years later and certain experiences later, I am not confident about my life at all and I am the least confident in myself I have ever been; however, I have an acute sense of self-belief that I have never had before. I am not going into the realm of emotions that can be connected to all this, it’s not an essay, but we all have our own demons to face and issues that can effect us (which can be good and bad at the same time), depression, melancholia, nostalgia, financial worries and so on, that’s all too much too to incorporate here, let’s stick to a generalization. You can apply your own reasoning if you want, if you are lonely, if you are dissatisfied with your job, your home, your salary, your body…on it goes, I don’t want to mention anything specifically. For myself then, I can say that I don’t feel confident about being successful in any arena of life you can mention, I don’t quite like the idea of being in any situation that involves the examples I have already given, but that is where self-belief creates a very comforting dichotomy – as much as one part of me wants those things, the other part of me doesn’t, and what is more important, doesn’t care and doesn’t let it effect me. So in one way I could say that self-belief trumps confidence. By not feeling affected by the lack of confidence, that doesn’t perversely mean that I am confident, it means that I have a sense of well-being that seems more long term than any feeling I have had before.
Before I blather on continuing to make absolutely no sense let me direct this to writing which after all is what this blog is about. When younger, I wanted to write. It was a very simple pleasure that was a hobby I often spoke about, but kept the details of very private. This is because I had confidence but I had no self-belief. I was confident about my ability to put thoughts onto paper, to type onto a keyboard, to produce lots of words and ideas, to set aside time to spend thinking and writing…but I never thought it would go anywhere, I didn’t think about what I was producing and the longer term goals and ambitions that went with it, there wasn’t a sense or connection between writing and my life. I thought about my job and my lifestyle and my education and my friends and my family but I did not associate writing with the part of me that was still trying to feel comfortable with itself.
Now things are entirely different, I have been through more life experiences, both good and bad, and I have got to a point where I see writing as a core part of my life that I need to focus on, and develop more than any job (and another conflict is that I don’t see it as a job but I must treat it like a job) or any hobby or sport, I consider it more important than my appearance or my financial situation or views on relationships. I now understand how much work is required, how I am right at the very beginning of developing my skills and the amount of time it will take to make progress. For that reason a sense of calm has settled on me, I am able to be honest about my desire to create stories, instead of it being something I do outside of my main life; it is my main life. For that reason, I cannot say I am confident because I genuinely don’t feel I am. I do not have any clue as to whether the work I will produce over the years to come will be any good, who will read it and why, whether I will ever earn a penny from it…and that is such a fantastic feeling! The interesting thing is, on this occasion not being confident is not something to associate with negativity. I don’t think it is a bad thing because I no longer feel an obligation to obtain the things I have not got confidence about. I’m sure I have messed this explanation up royally but I hope you get the drift of things. I feel very happy about my future, not because I feel confident I will get things I feel I should or must because of my age or the society I live in but because I feel a concrete sense of knowing myself so much better than ever before and that is purely down to having self belief that I will write; and whatever else happens as a consequence I can live with.
This could be a blog about getting older and it wasn’t lost on me that on the list of topics in my notes, ‘Being an Adult’ was very near to this and I will write another blog on that later this week. It could be a blog on making choices, or finding your vocation, or any number of things, but when looking at the title it struck me that I am writing this with no real understanding why, other than I hope that people can feel better about themselves by losing the conditions they have set their lives by and finding the self belief that is in every one of us, by telling yourself we are all important people who deserve a happy life and that if you lose your confidence because of external factors, inside you can still be the person you want to be. So I’m not worried about being in a state of low confidence, it may last days, months, years who knows, but it really doesn’t matter to me because I feel like I have something much more important, self-belief, and if we argue that because I gain self-belief I automatically gain confidence then that’s fine with me, I’ll go with that. If you couldn’t care less about something then perhaps that shows confidence in believing in yourself; that works for me too.
Now these are my own views, written over the course of an hour or so and not held back for review or editing so perhaps it comes across as too much of a contrast when I didn’t intend it to be so, but nevertheless it gives an approximation of my feelings and you are free to disagree with my definitions and the way I have expressed myself. I hope you do!
So if you want to write, then get writing and don’t think of anything else other than you are showing real confidence and real self-belief just by the process itself of trying to do something you love.
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