25 Jan ‘’Confidence’’ by Maria Bega
About Maria: Maria Bega moved to Romania from Canada, with her family, and joined Transylvania College in September of 2014. She is now in Year 13, preparing for a career in Cognitive Neuroscience. Ever since joining the school, Maria has expressed an interest to get involved in the school’s projects, while also showing responsibility and maturity in preparing for her A-Levels. She has been part of the school’s community service project, helping to build a house for a family in need with Habitat or Humanity, she is a school ambassador and member of the school’s Media Team, she is involved in mentoring projects for her younger colleagues and this year she has been appointed Deputy Head Girl.
In retrospect, it becomes quite easy to detect exactly where we went wrong. The problem is that when the damage is done, it’s irreversible. The irreversibility of the manifold mistakes we make as human beings prompt introspection. After many logical fallacies, I have come to ponder the recurrences in my actions – especially when these have been socially inappropriate. This is where retrospection and introspection have served me well; I not only used my past to understand myself, but also to understand those around me. Over time, I noticed that my many mistakes were in fact caused by my lack of understanding of what was actually expected of me.
Additionally, through the analysis of bullies’ ostracism of the underdogs, I came to find an explanation for something I’ve been questioning for a very long time. It is an idea which has had its fair share of causality in my behavioural mistakes: the meaning of confidence.
People are “taught” to be confident in this day and age. It is this very fact that hinders their growth. They are not directed towards being confident; they are faced with many social expectations that all add up to one idea that they have to conform to. “You need to be confident when you engage in an argument!” “You need confidence in order to talk to people!”
“By all means, please be more vague!” would cry my inner child. I’ve had people tell me to live up to the definition of this word so many times that if my brain could now recoil at the very sound of it, it would.
I’ve grown past this phase, but children nowadays are fundamentally misdirected to believe that they know what the word implies. You cannot tell a child to be confident because this concept is socially constructed, and people can interpret it in various ways. What’s more is that the word is overused, and can consequently lose its meaning and impact. It’s like telling someone that they become themselves. People go through experiences that shape them. People don’t become themselves – there isn’t just one self: we have so many identities (student, sister, and daughter are just some of mine). Therefore, identity isn’t something one can simply set in stone. Rather, it can change and become fragmented in time as stones do when they undergo severe pressure and erosion.
If you leave a child to his own devices, he will assume. For example, he will assume that the bully is more confident than he is because he dares to be deviant, when what in fact characterises the bully is his character’s ugliness that transcended into his actions. What’s worse is that this can easily be mistaken for confidence, when in reality boisterous remarks are founded in insecurity. This is why I find it sad that such acts evoke idolatry in a classroom. The class clown is often oddly worshipped, not necessarily because he is funny, but because he seems so quick to understand what to say and when to say it. Though I don’t mean to generalise, seeking this sort attention MAY in fact spring from the desire to improve one’s self-confidence. Once this “bully” is certain that he stole the show, his behaviour may be condoned by his ego, and he may quickly become disillusioned yet satisfied by his perceived social standing as the “cool kid everyone listens to”.
The problem is that when people think they have learned to stand up for themselves, they come face-to-face with the need to channel that confidence and circumvent habits tangential to conceit and egotistic disillusion. Unfortunately, many children and even adults cannot distinguish between confidence and condescension.
It has been proven that the level at which we try to demonstrate that we have self-esteem is inversely proportional with the amount of it we actually have. By seeking to prove our assets, we show just how much we lack them – this is what we aren’t taught, and consequently fail to understand. Most of us are just told that the ability to voice our opinions is precious, rather than being told that the messages we convey can show greater stability in our personas.
So then what is it that one really needs, anyway? In my opinion, confidence is a concept synonymous to integrity, intelligence, with a mix of quiet diligence. One thing we will never do in our youth is assume that the attainment of confidence is in fact a lengthy process and a matter of how we’ve been raised. Children don’t have that kind of self-awareness – I know I didn’t.
A child will ascertain that there is a way to flip the switch somewhere within in order to become confident. Given the fact that this is not the case, you need not feed the mind of your child with social ideals pertaining to the confidence level he should aim to achieve. Instead, you should encourage him to focus on his internal voice, that little voice that dictates his actions, that little voice that responds and reacts. Tell him to follow that voice with humility, with tact, with respect and with belief in himself. I beg of you not to tell him to be confident, because God only knows what he might understand from such a subjectively filtered concept, one whose definition may be subject to unrepresentative distortion by the minds of many as it is passed on by word of mouth.
Neighboring on everything I have said thus far is the fact that confidence in our knowledge is as socially constructed as these two concepts (both confidence and knowledge). Confidence can be understood differently depending on the individual. Likewise, not many things can be universally acknowledged as being true. The difficulty in defining these two concepts brings about the following question: how can we put them together and expect affirmative stability? When someone is confident in their knowledge, they are more often than not overstating their own abilities. We can only think that we know because what we say we know often comprises of minute variations and complexities that we often cannot even begin to fathom. This is why we’re told to question everything, and encouraged to verbalize our thoughts.
The strength in our ability to proclaim our own ignorance is what makes us truly confident. This is what we should teach children.