On Confidence and Humility

Confidence and humility are not opposites: they are the same thing.

When I am feeling proud, I want to be better than everyone else. I want to pull people down in order to lift myself up. I can place a lot enmity between myself and other people: Sometimes I want what another person has. Sometimes I compare myself to others. I think I’m better than I really am. This brings a huge amount of insecurity, because I’m not actually better than everyone else. I am imperfect, and the work I do is imperfect.

I can’t be confident when I really want to be the best at something. Because I’ll never be the best, so I’ll drown in insecurities.

When I am more humble, on the other hand, I recognize that other people have a lot of worth. I can learn from them. I want to celebrate their accomplishments and support them. I’m looking outwards and seeking to connect instead of compare.

When I am humble, I am okay when I don’t know the answers. I am aware that I can always keep improving. And I want to improve more, because I see my capacity for growth.

In humility, I find confidence. Because confidence is when you are okay with being bad at something.

Confidence is when you are okay with being bad at something.

Think about going and talking in front of a group: if you are worried about having every word right, you are going to be terrified, because you know that it is very likely you will get some words wrong. But if you know you’re going to stumble sometimes, and say “um” way too much, and that you’re going to press onward no matter what, then you can walk up to the front of the group with confidence. You are confidence not that you will be perfect, but that whatever you attempt is good enough.

Don’t worry about confidence: it will come once you are comfortable making mistakes. And you become more comfortable with making mistakes when you increase in humility.

We all make mistakes. But we keep trying anyway.

Another post about humility. And another.

I don’t know

Recently, I was teaching a lesson in church and someone commenting mentioned that even though she was sharing advice, she didn’t feel like she had it all figured out. I feel the same way a lot. If you could look into my day-to-day operations, you would know that I do not have it all together and I make mistakes on a constant basis.

But I keep trying. And that’s enough, because trying is all I’ve got. When I yell at my kids, I’m going to apologize and try not to yell again. When I spend half the day in my pajamas doing nothing, I’m going to get up and get in the shower and clean the house. When I fail at my goals, I’m going to keep setting goals anyway.

I know a lot more than I can actually do. I know what I want my life to look like, but I can’t always actually put that into effect. There is a large gap there, and there always will be.

So some days I don’t have advice because I’m not perfect and I make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are quite overwhelming. I am so deficient in so many ways. But so is everyone.

And it doesn’t matter if I have it figured out. I can keep taking that next step anyway.

(I wrote this post because I was procrastinating cleaning my house.)

We aren’t perfect

The biggest surprise I’ve had in becoming an adult is that I’m not very good at this.

I guess when I was younger, I expected that I would grow up and be a stable, happy, functioning adult. And while I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, I guess I figured that I would at least be competent.

Instead, sometimes I am a complete wreck.

And I want to be better. Of course I do. We all do. But sometimes it’s really hard. Life is harder than expected.

Part of this is being a parent–there is nothing quite so humbling as being a parent. Being a parent requires you to basically be good at everything at the same time. It’s an extreme sport in patience, faith, teaching, loving, and more. Every parents makes a whole lot of mistakes because sometimes there are no easy answers.

But I have to start separating myself from my extreme expectations of being able to do everything and do it well. Life isn’t like that.

There are messy days in life.

Days when I cry over spilled milk. Or I just don’t feel like talking with anyone. Or I say no to good things. Or we eat cereal for dinner. Or I binge watch random videos I don’t even like.

I want to get rid of the messy days and I want to get rid of them for forever. But I’m not perfect. Life isn’t perfect either.

But I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m not always on top of things and I make mistakes, sometimes large mistakes. Because the perfect person I’ve envisioned is just in my head, an ideal that I made up and that isn’t part of how the world really is.

I don’t need to expect perfection in myself or perfection in others. But what I can expect is that I keep trying and I keep moving forward.

I may never overcome some of my weaknesses. But I can keep trying my best to do the best I can, and be happy in my efforts. My efforts mean something, even if the results are less than impressive. I can keep trying.

I am worth something. I am worthwhile. I am doing better than I think I am.

It’s funny–I write these essays and I’m not always very good at what I’m writing about. In fact, sometimes I’m really bad at it, which is why I’m writing the essay. And sometimes I keep learning the same thing over and over and over again.

Because knowing something in my head for a minute is a lot different than learning how to live it. And so I will keep learning the same thing over and over again, and maybe I’ll get just a little bit better at it every time I keep trying.