Before you answer this question, you ought to understand what confidence really means.
Confidence isn’t something that can be learned, like a set of rules. It is a state of mind. Positive thinking, general knowledge and talking to other people are all useful tools to help improve or boost your confidence levels. Confidence comes from feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mind, and the belief in your own ability, skills and experiences.
Some people seem to struggle with issues of confidence because of the standards expected of them. “You should be good at this because you studied this.” “You should do this and then you can do that.” I think the struggle arises out of the misconception that being confident means you’ll succeed at everything. This, however, isn’t true.
When I was injured in a car accident 15 years ago, I had a choice either to give up and die a slow death or to face an unknown future. I chose the latter, as I knew that there must’ve been a reason I was still alive to face this debilitating situation. Now, I can tell you with assurance that life happens anyway. We just need to embrace all that it has in store for us.
To be confident doesn’t mean you know you’ll always succeed; it means you have the ability to accept where you fall short; you don’t avoid the challenges, but instead face them head-on. Confidence means you know it’s okay to feel bad and that the struggle leads to an outcome. Whatever the outcome, it’s just that – one outcome! Once it passes, there will be another chance, in whatever way it presents itself, for you to create a new outcome.
Since my disability, I’ve come to realise that I won’t always smile. I accept what emotions may come, whether they’re “appropriate” or not. The words that once provoked a rage in me don’t dent my pride any more – they elicit a laugh instead, because I know that words spoken from insecurity are like salt tablets thrown into the ocean.
I won’t always be strong, nor will I be able to turn my weakness into strength. Confidence is simply the act of allowing weakness to exist. You are enough!
Emilie Olifant is a disability activist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. She is the director of the Emilie Olifant Foundation, an organisation that strives to address socio-economic issues experienced by people with disabilities. email: firstname.lastname@example.org