I became a parent later than what seems normal. Being normal was never a priority; putting off parenthood however, was more a decision made from a cynical standpoint rather than a contrarian one. I had pretty much made up my mind that I wasn't the guy to be put in charge of raising children. Of course no one is prepared for parenthood but this is one of the things you learn. Having the job of turning two little shit machines into responsible, upstanding men is probably a job better done at this point in my life than when I was twenty. This is a bit paradoxical. Did the boys cause me to settle down and become responsible or am I older and more contemplative causing me to take a better look at my responsibilities? I could wax philosophical about this but the truth is I was scared to do something different and scared of failure.
I have no biological siblings. I've got some great friends that I consider my brothers and sisters but at home there was just me. I'm not sure the impact that had on my confidence but I didn't have to fight for the extra roll at dinner. I got the toys for Christmas. My stuff was my stuff. It wasn't until I was 33 that I had some other person taking and breaking my stuff. This is certainly a selfish point of view that my poor wife had to take the brunt of until I wised up. So how does my selfishness relate to my lack of self confidence? When someone bullied me, I had no point of reference. " I'm taking your lunch money, what are you going to do about it?" My answer would be to avoid the bully, and go hungry or charm someone else into buying me lunch. This is a hypothetical situation, no one ever took my lunch money but it gets the point across. Having the self confidence to tell the guy to "shut the hell up, I'm keeping my money" would have been confrontational in the short term but probably served me well in the long term. Instead I rarely made new friends, and was generally slow to trust people. Like everyone, my experiences have influenced who I am. A few years back my New Year's Resolution was to have more resolve. I try to be aware of what's going on in my life and make my decisions deliberate. A couple of years ago I was offered a position in my company. To the company it was a no brainer. They didn't offer this to just anyone and I'd be a fool not to take it. They explained that there were a few caveats to this. Suffice to say the management was aware of some people with less than positive attitudes that I would have to work with. They knew that I could get along with people and not have arguments. This comes from avoiding confrontation but also allows me to get trod upon. Being afraid of failure and confrontation, I was pretty worried about taking this position. Being the provider for my family I would be a fool not to take it. I spent the last year and a half keeping my head down and just listening to what everyone had to say. In the meantime, I was doing the job well and (I hope) earning a little respect from my co-workers. I was also working on improving myself through reading and trying to stay focused on making good decisions rather than just going through the motions. Knowing that I'm doing something and making the effort to set an example is building that self confidence.
It ain't easy
Nothing worth doing is easy. Or if it is easy it comes with big responsibility which brings us back to not easy. Maybe the hard part is knowing you might fail. At least if you fail you can learn from that experience and try again later. It's the successes that build the confidence. I don't always win. Anyone who has seen me play a sport that involves a ball will tell you that. But I know now that had I been more confident (and more resolute) in the past I would probably been farther along now. My kids would be in high school and I'd have more money in the bank etc... Or maybe I would have been hit by a bus.
So I guess I'm an adult
That's what I've been thinking lately as far as being an adult is concerned. I wish I'd had more confidence growing up and even now I'm no Teddy Roosevelt. I do have the opportunity and presence of mind to help instill some in my boys. I'd love to wrap this up with some sage advice about how you can be more confident but this is an essay, not a treatise. So until the next installment of On Being an Adult... Confidence, have some.