Confidence is something that’s extremely priceless. How to gain it is often a journey that’s different from person to person. For some it comes easy but for others it finds a foot hold in doing things that you or others find value in. For everything my parents gave me confidence was not one of them. My childhood was nowhere near the worst that a kid could have. There were rough patches financially but my father worked hard and my mom had a way of shielding us from having to witness a lot of the things she knew were happening around us.
By today’s standard and if I’m being completely honest even by yesterday’s we were abused as kids. My mother had a vicious temper which we got the brunt of and my father showed us limited attention. Both aspects leaving an incredibly deep scar in how I viewed myself whether I knew it or not. Luckily I wasn’t a troubled kid but in all honesty I didn’t stay out of trouble because I was smarter or wiser than the other teens, I did it out of fear.
Fear is what drove so many of my decision as a teen and as a young adult, it was the most prominent factor in every equation I was faced with. I tried to wear a “don’t mess with me mask” but on the inside I feared being noticed. Being noticed meant I could be judged and ridiculed for how I dressed or acted. I feared bullies, and did my best to remain invisible. I hated being called upon to read aloud to the class. Unable to control my nervousness I would stutter and stumble though the selected reading.
To this day part of me dreads attention, it’s something that I’m so unaccustomed to dealing with that I don’t know how to handle it. Some aspect of the child me feels that I’m undeserving of compliments and praise, especially in group settings. A large degree of it is humbleness but it’s also an unhealthy amount of fear.
It took me roughly around age 30 to finally start fighting against the fear that held me from living life. Jiu-Jitsu in large part became the vehicle that would shatter what I expected about myself as a man and I’ve refused to look back in my personal life or on the mat. Fear and doubt inevitably became what fueled me to want to destroy every challenge in front of me.
A buddy of mine complimented me on the fact that I’m willing to try anything when it comes to competing, at the moment it was doing my first Judo competition with little time training on the art. It really had very little to do with the confidence in my Judo abilities. I expected to be thrown around every match and go home bruised but with some experience under my belt.
When most of your life you’ve been yielding to fear and apprehension you reach a point when you say “F it!” So if money isn’t an issue and I have the time, I jump head first into every challenge that I have an interest in. My resolve isn’t layered in the fact that I believe that I can win every fight or dominate every challenge. Medals feel great, and it’s a confidence booster to be able to answer a friend with I got gold this weekend. But inside of me that’s not what triggers me.
My confidence isn’t built on the fact that I think I’m better than I am, but specifically on the fact that I’m better than I was. On the mat I feel my Jiu-Jitsu is solid and I can be a problem for anyone. I don’t care if that’s laced in truth or a misguided belief because I relate heavily on the Ali quote; “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”
That’s the kind of belief and passion you need in life for whatever you decide to chase. Put the time in and believe that ultimate lie until you convince yourself to be confident!