Is there a fine line between being insecure and having a lack of confidence? Personally, I think there is. We all have insecurities, some you carry around with you from a young age and others you develop over time depending on what life throws your way. It is the facing of insecurities that is really important when you are striving to develop yourself and I’m sure we can all agree that there is no quick fix. It takes hard work and it means pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. But I think most of all it is about really addressing the thoughts inside your head. Since I have written about this topic recently I don’t want to focus too much on that right now.
Instead, let’s talk about confidence. I have been thinking a lot about this over the last few days. I met someone on my way home from Berlin last weekend and at one point they said to me that they loved how sure of myself I was. Thankfully this wasn’t said in a negative way, they simply meant that I know who I am. It’s funny because we only spoke for a brief five minutes and this was the impression they built of me.
Now, take the same five minute conversation, the same two people, but this time I invite you to step inside my head for a moment; my mouth was moving, words were coming out, but my mind was running at approximately 60 million miles an hour!
“Don’t say anything stupid Rachael!”
“Don’t go red!”
“Oh great; you’re going red!”
There was nothing particularly intimidating about this person, the conversation wasn’t loaded but honestly inside I still felt a bit nervous, out of my comfort zone perhaps. I allowed my confidence to falter!
I love meeting new people and I really love meeting strong characters who have an opinion. It doesn’t matter what it is about once they are sure of what they are saying and can stand by it if challenged. I don’t particularly follow politics, but I always find it so stimulating when people talk about political issues. I can’t explain how much I love to listen and learn from someone who is passionate and knowledgeable. I think it is truly important to soak up as much as we can from others. That is how we grow and keep moving forward.
Which leads me to my point – a spoonful of confidence can take you a long way! I love when a stranger lets me in to a little snippet of their life. I really enjoy when people open up to me, but I haven’t always had the confidence to be the one to initiate it. I’m definitely improving though and I credit that to both traveling and the conscious effort I have been making to talk to people. I intentionally make myself ask questions and try to encourage any conversation I become part of. Thankfully, I am rarely disappointed.
Over the last few weeks I got the opportunity to spend time in a different department in work, for anyone who doesn’t know me I work for a newspaper. We have an office downstairs where people can come in and put memorial notices in the paper for their loved ones and I have spent some time down there helping out recently. The experience has been eye opening and humbling to say the least. The first few weeks were quite emotionally draining. I found myself going to bed at night thinking about the man who shed a tear in front of me putting the first birthday remembrance in for his wife. He was only in his fifties. I wanted to reach through the glass and hug his sadness away. I would sit on the train thinking about the couple who came in to remember their son, who they told me had given in to depression last year, and think about just how broken they seemed. It has been extremely powerful meeting each and every person in this situation and has given me some priceless life perspective. But putting the sad element to this aside, it really has been a joy meeting people who just want to be open and talk about their experiences.
One lady in particular really struck a chord with me this week. She came to put an anniversary notice in the paper for her husband. It was the fifth anniversary of his passing. She had such a lovely warm energy that I felt really comfortable talking to her. The line that stuck out in her notice was “He was a simple man with high standards”. I told her that I really liked what she had written, it was very honest and real. I asked her a couple of questions about him. She was only too delighted to indulge me and said “He was a gift from God, love… And you know we never appreciate what we have until it is too late”.
We chatted for a while and I asked her what drew her to him when they first met and she said, with a twinkle in her eye “Well I thought he was absolutely gorgeous obviously!”. She found an aged black and white photo of him in her wallet and showed me so I could judge for myself. He must have been about twenty five in it – and he really was a handsome devil!
Somehow we got on to the topic of her age and how long they had been married – she was EIGHTY SEVEN (she didn’t look a day over seventy!). She got married when was just eighteen. I asked her the one question you should always ask someone that has lived such a long life filled with love. “What’s the secret?”. She stopped for a minute and really thought about it. I was grateful she didn’t just brush me off with some generic answer about happiness, these were her words:
“We never had anything, but at the same time we had everything! Do you know what I am trying to say?”
And I did. I 100% understood what she meant. All the material things in the world, all the social status, fame, fortune etc.. None of that is the key to a good life – you and only you can make your life worth living. If you are lucky enough to find someone who is willing to come along for the journey, then that’s a bonus point for you!
I really relished speaking to her, she must have been there for about half an hour, just chatting and giving me life advice – she told me to “Find a man (!)” but preferably one who doesn’t drink. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I enjoy nothing more than a few G&T’s on a Friday night! She said she’s not overly religious but that it’s important to have faith in something. By the time she left we were both smiling, she said she would light a candle for me (of course!) and that was that.
So how does this tie into confidence? Well, it’s simple; I had the confidence to ask her about her life and her love for her husband. It really hit me after she left that not so long ago, as much as I would have wanted to, I would not have had the confidence to really engage with her, to ask the questions and get to hear her wonderful story. And what a shame that would have been. I would have let such a sweet encounter pass me by, simply by not owning my own confidence.
Allowing yourself to really let go of the notion that you can’t do something is so unbelievably empowering (my favorite word of 2017!). Once you let go, you open your life, mind and heart to so much! The world is incredible. People have so much positive energy and experience that they can pass on to one another. If you just have the confidence to embrace that; how many wonderful experiences will you have? Get out there, talk to people, smile at a stranger, ask the questions you want the answers to – you just never know what it might lead to or how it might change your day / week / life!
Written with love,
*Feature photo by the wonderful Ciara Drennan, you can give her a follow and check out more of her work HERE.