Somedays, or maybe most days, we all lack a little confidence. Maybe it doesn’t go more than skin deep, and we recognize that feeling as if we’re too fat, too skinny, too smart, too dumb, too short, too tall, too whatever, is just us getting caught up in that stupid, social bullsh!t. But, if I’m being honest, many times my lack of confidence goes a lot deeper than acne breakouts and bad hair days.
So in this (relatively) long post, we’re going to explore confidence a bit more. And that’s a pretty big topic so I’m narrowing it down to a specific context: our voices. YOUR voice. MY voice. You know, the thing I’m using to talk to you right now? That thing.
YOUR voice. MY voice. You know, the thing I’m using to talk to you right now? That thing.
A teacher once asked me once what makes a good class participant and student. How does someone get to a place where they are involved in the discussion? Is it intelligence? Determination? Teachability? While these are certainly important, they are not enough. How do teachers get their students to actually learn and contribute to a class? I think back to my middle school and high school classes and ask myself, what drove me to keep writing and keep trying in classes where I wasn’t the smartest or best or, hell, even understood what was going on? It boils down to one, very simple factor.
My teachers convinced me that I had something worth saying.
Let that sink in.
I was convinced that even if I was objectively wrong, my attempts at giving an answer, proposing a solution, or asking a question were good enough to verbalize potentially to complete strangers, or worse, people I knew.
What if we actually believed that our thoughts had value? What if we had enough confidence to say our thoughts and beliefs on a regular basis to people who may not understand or even want to hear us?
Sure, you can accuse of me of the typical millennial with a load of BS that “everyone’s opinion matters,” but that’s not quite what I mean. What I am saying is, sometimes we get scared to speak out in class and in life’s conversations. We let a lot of those opportunities slip by us. It doesn’t seem important enough, intellectual enough, funny enough, smart enough. These are lies, and a lack of confidence that’s keeping an entire generation silent. Not only is it grossly limiting awesome ideas and our sense of shared community (because I’m pretty sure we’re all thinking what you’re about to say and then we’ll all realize how we’re not alone), but I believe it can negatively impact our own, personal self-confiance. How we feel about ourselves and our “value”.
The duct tape over the mouth begins innocently enough. Someone gets a couple Bs and Cs on paper or two. The teacher corrects their answers and the other kids in the class laugh. They try to show their new experiment to their parents and are dismissed because the parents are busy. Sure, grades are important, knowing the right answers are important, and parents need a break, too. But that’s just the beginning because there are a million things in our lives that tend to beat us down. Without a whole lot of support to combat these things, the message that comes across is WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY OR DO IS NOT OF VALUE.
Without a whole lot of support to combat these things, the message that comes across is WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY OR DO IS NOT OF VALUE.
Someone tell me I’m not the only one who’s felt like that?
I was a good student in college. Not the smartest, but decent and put in the effort. I was that annoying kid who talked every class and enjoyed chatting with my professors before and after. I had no problem speaking up. But I only was at that place because in some of the formidable years of my life, I had a significant support-network of people (thank you parents and teachers!) telling me that what I said meant something. Was worth something. Wasn’t stupid. Often wrong, but not stupid. Sometimes we just need people to say, hey, what you are thinking and have to say isn’t dumb! Keep trying.
I could easily connect this to the importance of young adult literature, where the characters of the story say and do the things that youths are feeling, thus legitimizing their thoughts and actions, but let’s not go there today. (Maybe Danny will share his writing on that one!) Suffice to say, when voicing and expressing our thoughts and emotions is a roller coaster ride of uncertainty, the best way to set ourselves up in the future to be confident with our voice is to surround ourselves with people who validate our words.
This whole post is a long way of saying that wherever and whoever you are, your voice deserves to be heard. People and life can make us feel really bad about what we have to say, it can get us down, and make us feel like we shouldn’t or can’t express ourselves. But, hey, Danny and I are here so send us a message if you want. Start your own blog (maybe you hate ours anyways), find your own tribe, or just message someone you care about. To quote a well-known nursery rhyme, let your little light shine!