Is confidence a social construct designed to keep a certain power balance in the dating and relationship world? I’m going to be spitballing for most of this post so bear with me.
I’m sure you’ve heard things like “Confidence is the sexiest quality in a person!” and “You have to love yourself before loving someone else”. I call bullshit on both of these statements. First of all, they seem inherently ableist towards people with mental illness. Let’s look at this through the lens of anxiety and depression, the most common and probably most unreported or unbelieved of the mental illnesses. When your brain is constantly against you it’s sometimes impossible to believe in or love yourself. Some logical part of the brain says that these thoughts nonsense, but it’s fighting against itself, and we all know how powerful the brain can be. It’s disgusting to put these hurdles on the already complicated world of love and dating. It’s saying that in order to be able to, or even deserve to be loved you need to meet these requirements, otherwise don’t even bother sending in your resume.
But what I really want to focus on today is on confidence. What even is it? In its most basic and simplest form, it’s certainty in something or someone. Something I find telling myself lately is that there’s absolutely nothing certain in this world. No one, NO ONE, is actually that sure about their career path, or their relationship, or really any of choices they make in their lives. At least that’s what I tell myself in order to not freak out at night.
“Fake it till you make it”. I read this a couple of years ago somewhere on the internet and it has been my motto ever since. If you act like you fit in you probably will, no questions asked. This I learned from countless TV show and movie scenes of people strolling into invite only events. So this begs the question, are we all just faking it in order to fit into the proper expected societal behaviors? I mean, people who are blindly confident in anything are seen as foolish or arrogant. Is trying to be confident fake? I don’t’ know. I think it feels fake the same way makeup is “fake”. We want to be perceived a certain way by people, which is completely valid and acceptable. But there’s a point where you gotta open up.
I remember a conversation I had with a guy once. We were talking about school, the future and such. I wasn’t in a very good place concerning these things, constantly thinking about and looking for reasons to drop out of college. He kept talking about the sacrifices he had to make in his social life to better balance his school work. I asked him how he found the motivation to actually do these things and care about them. I didn’t realize how vulnerable the question was until it was out of my mouth. I don’t think he noticed at all. I can’t remember what he replied, some cliche’d line about the future and results probably. I know that he presents himself as a very confident person, but I was hoping to peek into who he was underneath what he initially appears to be. I feel like I never got to know the real him because of his confidence. Which is why I feel like not being the most confident person, or being open about your uncertainties is very honest and admirable. Embrace it and create a new type of confidence in your inconfidence.