Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"I have confidence in CONFIDENCE A-L-O-N-E! . . . . . Oh help."

Ahhhhh Maria....

Seriously though, a friend and I were chatting about confidence the other day.   And she got me to thinking about the ever elusive concept.  I know what confidence is, theoretically speaking anyways.  But why do some peeps have so much of it and others (like moi, for example) seem to fall a bit shorter in supply?  If some folks have it in spades, how do the rest of us less well-endowed people get a better hold on its slippery reins?  The short answer is:  I don't know.  (And given the recent blow to my confidence, I'm probably the last person who should be writing about it!)   In that vein, the long answer is also likely to be: I don't know.  But I nevertheless think it's worth at least a bit of rumination.

I think I tend to start out most days feeling reasonably confident.  Kind of like Maria before she sees the Vonn Trapp mansion. I'm emotionally fresh (well, fresher let's say), having slept (okay, maybe not slept, but at least become temporarily horizontal) on whatever myriad of mistakes, missteps and oopsies I've managed to step in the day before.  I think to myself, "Self - I have a masters degree. I am a smarty-smarty-smarty pants. If I can wrangle and wrestle (and deconstruct, naturally!) several postmodern philosphers at the same time, surely I can figure out how to wrangle some kiddies, clean the house, throw in a load of laundry, buy some groceries and squeeze in a clever blog?" 

You can be sure the internal dialogue at the end of the day is slightly less, well, kind.  It's getting through the whole (long) day with that same level of confidence that seems to be the real challenge.   Little things happen throughout the day that chip away at my confidence.  I lose my patience here, deal with a tantrum poorly there, can't get my house clean, can't get my brain uncluttered, can't think of anything to write, or can think of something to write but can't get it out in any intelligent way, can't get supper underway with kids underfoot, feel guilty for wanting kids not underfoot... this list drones on, the confidence goes down.  But the end of the day, I'm not ashamed to say I feel a little, well, downtrodden sometimes.  Sort of lacking in faith that I've gotten anything right in the day's adventures in parenting and writing and just general living.   It's probably no accident that you can't get a master's degree in say parenting, or in just general living.  Because that shit is seriously tricky.  Trickier than Foucault, that's for sure.  Trickier than Habermas.  Maybe even trickier than Judith Butler.  (And yes, I do know that you have to be seriously, seriously nerdy to get those references.  In my former life I was a nerd.  Hardcore.  I aspire to be a nerd again some day.) 

All that being said - I think I'd rather be little old down-a-pint-of-confidence me than be the opposite, particularly in regards to parenting.  I feel like it's far better to think, re-think, second-guess, and reevaluate on a fairly regular basis than to blow through decisions assuming I must be right.  Because underconfidence notwithstanding, I have this perennial niggling suspician that I'm often a bit, you know, off the mark.  You can say I have a 'poor self-esteem' (blah blah blah) until the cows come home - but I kind of feel like a little bit of self-doubt might be an important part of this living (and especially parenting) business.  We only really get one go at it (parenting and life both).  I'd like to try to be a bit conscientious, and do as little damage as I possibly can.  Leave as little footprint (or baggage) as I can, metaphorically speaking. 

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe being a little bit of a mess at the end of the day actually makes a bit of sense...

So to return to the initial question of how we might get more confidence? 

Short answer: Still don't know. 

Long answer: Still don't know. 

Bloggy postulation:  Is it really that important?


  1. I thought I was nerdy and yet I have never heard of these people you speak! Guess that's what I get for taking philosophy at a christian college! Thank you for name dropping, I am a tiny bit smarter now ... even though I will probably forget these names by morn.

    P.S... I could never imagine you writing something unclever. How's that for pressure ;-)

  2. I don't know either. But did you know that I missed meeting Judith Butler in Ankara by a matter of weeks? And oodles of my friends got to meet her, march with her, dine with her, etc?
    (I got your nerdy references. I'm another nerd. Another confidence-lacking nerd.)

  3. Oh yes, also what Dana said-- you're very clever. When I read your blog, I yearn to be as clever as you.

  4. Danes - you are also supah hella smart - you are just differently nerdy I think. (You're an artsy nerd :-)

    And Kim - I cannot imagine what it would be like to dine with Judith Butler. I wonder if she is confident? She is almost too smart. It hurt my head to read her :)

    and both of you - are too marvellous for words. you sure know how to make a grrl feel good :)

  5. i had post-conference appies with Judith Butler once.... *sigh* a lifetime ago...

    harder than Habermas? there is a good point for discussion...

  6. self doubt could be good in the sense that it encourages you to be humble, to continuously learn and grow and open your eyes to infinite possibilities, not just those born from your pin point perspective.
    and aboots the confidence, when i think of confidence i think about believing in myself and trusting myself to do what i feel is morally right with integrity (of course, based on my own skewed biases) and in appreciating the strengths that i know i have and seeing the negatives as things to learn from...