I had a who’s-more-successful competition with a friend today. Only, being women, we each argued that the other person was more successful. To win the argument, I started thinking of all the stupidest things I’ve ever done, and I realized that all my biggest mistakes were caused by lacking self-confidence.
It’s messing with me. For most of my life, I’ve had little-to-no self-confidence. In a lot of areas, anyway. And for most of those mistakes, I actually had a better choice. If I’d done what I thought was best, I wouldn’t have made those mistakes. But could I do that? No. I listened to other people over my own logic and instincts. Not as a kind of peer pressure – because I thought they must be right, and I must be wrong. Because I thought their opinions or ideas had to be better than mine. Because I didn’t have confidence in my own thoughts compared to theirs.
On second thought, maybe it’s more of an inferiority complex than a lack of confidence. Because it’s not that I don’t think my idea is right – it’s that I think someone else’s idea must be better or more right. Not everyone. But I know a lot of really smart, really talented people. And with some of them especially, I have a really hard time believing myself over them because I feel like they’re smarter than me.
I can make all the logical arguments I want about having talents or skills, but emotions don’t listen to logic, do they? It feels right to put their opinions above my own. To think I must be wrong because they disagree. It feels like I shouldn’t have any self-confidence because I don’t deserve to – I’m not as good at those things as other people are. They’re smarter than I am. They make better choices. They must be right, not me
And the saddest part is that I still feel that way. Even knowing that they were wrong. Even knowing that the option I thought of would’ve been better. In a situation where I think one thing, and they think another, I’ll end up going with what they say because I think they must be right. Because the idea that I could be right over them is boggling.
I’d like to blame it on societal brainwashing of women (who knows? it could be true), but there doesn’t seem to be any point right now. That doesn’t tell me how to fix it. It’s not like waving a magic wand: “Oh, you gave me a false impression of my own abilities. I actually can do stuff!” *ping self-confidence appears*. Yeah right.
Want to know the biggest reason I still question my own judgment?
It’s because as often as I was right, and the other people were wrong, I also know how often I end up being wrong (soooo often). Times when they were right. Just because my logic didn’t cause those major mistakes in the past doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. How am I supposed to know if I’m ignoring my better judgment because of self-confidence issues or if they’re right this time?
That’s what scares me most about this idea. As long as I can cast some doubt on my own judgment, I’ll have to pick theirs. I’m trained to pick theirs. So how do I change that? Should I even try to change that?
How self-confident do I need to be to avoid big mistakes? How self-confident do I need to be to cause more?