She too arrived early for the most important interview of her career. Her mind raced during the overwhelming drive to the stately building. No meditation training helped ease the anxiety, which bled onto the receptionist’s desk. “H-H-Hi, I’m here for an interview with,” she checked her paperwork, “M-Marissa Desta and… Z-Zheng Harper.” “Yes. Can I see your ID, miss?” After blundering through innocent answers, she had a temporary badge, and a seat by the window.
I think we focus too much on what other people think about us. When I’ve felt awkward, it’s usually because I’m thinking too much about what people think of me while I’m doing something. It’s all in my head, too. No one ran up to me exclaiming that I shouldn’t photograph this sign. Most people wouldn’t even care. If they did, it’s only because I distracted their own focus. How can we overcome focus insecurity?
While there’s something to be said for playing life safely, when the opportunity strikes, jump up on life’s stage! Get outside your comfort zone! Even for just a minute. The experience will probably be uncomfortable, you might need to push through fatigue, or embarrass yourself. You might step in spilled beer, get bumped into harmlessly, or get your picture taken. You also might not get the best shot. That’s still better than no shot whatsoever!
In ten years, will I have this spider’s confidence? It stared right at me. To not be skittish around anyone I don’t fully know? To not feel embarrassed over the most minor, benign, and otherwise harmless social faux paus? The courage to talk to anyone? Compared to ten years ago, I do have more self-confidence, so I imagine in ten more years of practice, I’ll be closer. I have had glimpses of this spider’s confidence…
As soon as I realized my current goal, writing “The Story,” things fell into place. I stopped wasting time with things I didn’t care about. I reinvested in my health. Your goals don’t have to be lofty! Let’s revisit last week’s Dr. Mindbender, photographed below. His goal is just to play this Pac-Man arcade cabinet. While playing, he might notice people laughing at him. He doesn’t care. He’s focused on his goals!
Focus on yours!
Don’t run from your pain! Whether it’s a something physical like an injury or something mental like ennui, learn to embrace that pain. Pain will remind you of your motivations more than the seduction of any numbing pleasure. Pain will be with you always. Pleasure is fleeting and addicting. Pleasure will leave you in both your darkest hours and when everything seems wonderful, whereas when disciplined properly, pain will be motivation toward achieving your goals.
I used to consider other people’s opinions of me when considering my self worth. If the group liked me, then I liked me. If a group had a problem with me, then I needed to address that along with nine unrelated problems. On the surface, that should be easy to identify as false, yet we all do it. If there’s one thing I can stress in the realm of self-confidence, it’s this:
Trust in yourself!