A lot of the time people who are anxious or worried about something, are usually given the advice “be confident”. Now the person saying this might mean well and have good intentions, because encouragement can help lessen someone’s anxiety and bring up their self-esteem.
But if we look into why confidence is needed, there’s a more negative side. It’s about how others treat you, in this world, there is (unfortunately) a large majority of people who like to feed their egos. The things that matter to these people are ego, status and popularity. Especially in the town I’m living in, when it comes down to how people treat you, it’s all down to how much status you’ve got and how you carry yourself as a person.
For example, if you’re confident and don’t feel emotionally vulnerable, this means people are going to look up to you more as a person. Compared to someone who is emotionally vulnerable, who is aware of the people around them, and doesn’t display confidence. People are going to be more likely to take advantage of this person’s weakness and perhaps see them as lesser.
I’ve never heard of anyone accepting people’s weaknesses and anxiety, I’ve never seen people celebrate being emotionally open, to the point where you’re allowed to feel anxious and nervous about something without feeling that you need to “be more confident”. As an example, there’s many out there who have been bullied throughout life, perhaps in school as a child, and this means that person might feel anxious and more timid around other people.
Instead of accepting that this person is going to look anxious in public, instead of accepting that they might shake a little, or speak very quietly. Instead of accepting this and allowing their confidence to develop upon acceptance, we instead tell them to “be more confident”. Why can’t a person simply BE in society without having to seem like a confident, smiling, healthy person?
Why do we see confident people as the “right way to be”, when instead we should accept that some people are going to feel anxious in public places, and that treating them no different than a smiling confident person who doesn’t have the same fears, is more beneficial to building that person’s confidence?
Feigned confidence isn’t real confidence, and it’s rare that “faking it until you make it” helps someone without confidence. How can you build upon confidence that isn’t there? Confidence isn’t just a mask to stick on your face, to cover up your anxiety and fear, in order to make those around you feel more comfortable.
Confidence needs patience. Confidence needs understanding. Confidence should be built from acceptance. Instead of shaming someone for being anxious and nervous in public places, instead of shaming that person for speaking too quietly on stage, we need to accept them and show them it’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay to have emotions.
I’m rambling on a lot. I’m just hoping people reading this understand my points. Not many people want to acknowledge or believe this, but in the world confident people get treated better while emotionally vulnerable people get stepped on. People out there feel uncomfortable with vulnerability, so instead they bully and belittle those for being “weak” and applaud others for being outgoing and “strong”.
When we see the negative side to confidence, only then we’re able to see how hypocritical it is to expect others to be confident. It all ties into ’cause and affect’ too. People often mistake ’cause and affect’, instead of questioning why a person appears they way they are, they instead place them into a tiny little box and say they’re not making an effort.
Whenever I’m in public spaces, because of what I’ve gone through in the past, my subconscious mind sees being around strangers in public as “danger”, a threat to me. Whenever I’m in public, my body will tremble, my voice will evaporate, and whenever I pick up a coffee and try to drink it, my hands might shake so much that I dribble it over myself by mistake. Or that whenever I’m pulling out money from my wallet to pay the cashier, I might be slow trying to get the money out, because of my shaking hands.
Instead of allowing myself to accept that I’m anxious and that my hands are going to shake, instead of allowing myself to relax and enjoy being outdoors as much as I can, I’m instead mentally beating myself up over not “being confident enough”. This is because throughout the years, I’ve been personally seen as weak, I’ve been laughed at, called names, simply for having shaky hands or looking visibly nervous. Anxiety, nervousness, it isn’t accepted.
I feel that I’m made to be self conscious and fixate solely of the fact I spilled my coffee on myself, or that I genuinely feel uncomfortable sat down on a table with other tables of strangers around me. I feel that every little thing I do as a result of my anxiety, is a flaw and makes me n embarrassment. Because that’s what I, and many others with anxiety, have been taught by their peers.
Even some therapists shove this onto you, instead of accepting that you’re anxious and naturally feel this way as a result of past experiences, instead of helping you accept your emotions and accept what they do to your facial expressions and body language. Instead of teaching you not to worry about what others think, to relax and allow yourself to feel awkward without shame. You’re taught to “be confident!”
Now I understand that it helps people to be “more confident”, I understand that there’s people out there who benefit from this type of therapy and practice of being confident. But I feel that in a way, it’s just building upon the stigma further. Hide everything, hide your emotions, wear a big fake smile to make others comfortable. Does anyone not see how much energy acting consumes? Does anyone not see how much emotional health that sacrifices? The strain of a false facade?
I hope this post wasn’t too much of a incoherent mess. I’m currently going through month 4 of Sertraline withdrawal, I’m not as emotionally connected to my thoughts as I once were. Now I do have empathy and I understand there are cases where people can’t be open with their emotions, because it’s a safety mechanism. It’s something they need to do to remain safe, wear a mask. All I’m doing is expressing how people out there treat you differently based on how much confidence you express. It isn’t just about you and making yourself happy. It’s about avoiding the judgement, shame and being taken advantage of.
I’m taught to try and stop shaking. I’m taught to do breathing exercises and told to relax my muscles. But do we not see where the discomfort is coming from? My discomfort isn’t from the fact that I feel and look visibly anxious. The fact my hands shake, the fact I have awkward posture, and that my body language screams “I’M SCARED”. None of this causes me discomfort. What DOES cause me discomfort, is other people’s reactions to my anxiety. Other people’s ignorance, their judgement, their strong belief that anxiety and awkward posture = weird/weak/pathetic. And I have a terrible feeling that other people who have anxiety, also feel the same way.