It took me a long time to realize that there are certain dimensions of our personality that are ill defined because the “street” meaning of the word has been superimposed over the true definition. Millennials have been told for decades that they need to have a healthy self-esteem but what I have noticed is that they are confident even when their self-esteem is low. The Kardashians are a prime example of this hipothesis, proof that you can be very confident about your looks, lifestyle, fashion skills and even love life but you can succumb to bouts of low self-esteem. People that hold themselves in high regard don’t go parading around in their underwear or airing their dirty laundry. At least that is what I have been told. Confidence, not a naked body, are sexy.
By definition, confidence has to do with how we value our abilities and qualities; an evaluation of our skills and how we feel about them. When we are confident we know that even if we fail we can get back at it again or that you are so bad at something you won’t even try it. You can be confident about events, trust and facts too although this portion of the definition doesn’t necessarily reflect on your overall confidence. In a nutshell, a confident person may be bold and daring but can also be cautious and reserved. It is a very powerful quality and it takes discipline and serious introspection to determine if we possess it or not. Doubting ourselves is a sign that we are not confident but it doesn’t exclude the possibility of having a healthy self-esteem.
In contrast, self-esteem is multi dimensional and depends on many variables, one of which is confidence, but is heavily related to worth. How you view yourself as a person, the value you attribute to your life and experiences, and the amount of love and respect you show to yourself and others contribute as well to the overall picture. You can be highly confident in your reading skills but have low-self esteem. Who would care to hear me read? I’m not cool nor have a good voice. Etcetera.
We tend to be hard on ourselves and look for many ways to self deprecate and devalue our efforts because we are raised to be modest and humble (see The Vanity of Humility). However, if we don’t learn to balance praise and effort with value and significancd we can end up thinking that we are not worthy of the rewards or worse, that we deserve more than what we have earned. I see many Millennials or young kids strutting the stuff around the office, overly confident about their skills and contributions, asking for privileges and special treatment when what they accomplished is not as heroic as they may realize. When you ask them about their lives, plans and lifestyle (work/life balance oriented) they seem to have very low views of themselves and their environment. The talk the talk but not necessarily walk the walk. Many feel unloved or over protected by their circumstances. They never learned to build their confidence and self-esteem without adult supervision. They would be lost without guidance of their parents. Sad. 😦
As an introvert, I can relate to the high or healthy self-esteem with low confidence bracket. Some of my engineering skills are not fully developed and I suck at certain types of analysis. Even if I learn them and hone the skills, they are not necessary to raise my value or standing nor for my career path. It is the reason why I know I am a good professional – because I took stock of my abilities and work around the weaknesses. I see many struggle and lose confidence in themselves and their abilities by focusing on the one thing they did wrong. Eventually this failure eroded their self-esteem and made them think they were lucky to still be employed!
Confidence is what we have when we know that as a human resource, corporations cannot thrive without an excellent employee base. Self-esteem is what we gain when we assert that without us there are no corporations, and that our decisions and efforts not only matter but are meaningful because we are the business. We matter and we deserve better pay, better benefits and better work conditions. If you think you should be grateful to your masters for having a job and a paycheck you might have low self-esteem; you can change the way your life develops, especially with better masters. It may take hard work, assistance from your peers and sacrifice but with the right support system it can happen. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Don’t give up your rights or benefits because someone is guilting you into submission. Don’t ever think you don’t deserve what you have earned. Also, don’t make the mistake of assumimg that the rich and powerful can’t be revolted against; a well placed strike (The Real Problem With Unions) or a well written comment form could open doors that had be closed before. In the end it is the peoppe that link and run the system. The government executes the will of the people, that is the basis of democracy. We are doing this to ourselves!
That’s why self-esteem and confidenxe are so tricky to upkeep. Any comment or event that raises doubt in ourselves will knock these down temporarily. It is during the times we lose sight of our value that the vultures will strike and take advantage of you. Loved ones can be the first line of defense or the worst offenders, depending on how they project their frustrations and anxiety. This is why you have to be responsible for your evaluations and findings, building yourself up when no one else will. The moment you give up power over yourself to the opinion of others the game will be over. Save yourself the heartache and make a mental note to feed your self worth before feeding others. That includes your spouse and children.
Go out there and discover what makes you happy and successful. You will never know how high you can fly if you don’t spread your wings. Corny as it may sound, it is true. Live, learn and grow. Take care of your hopes and dreams and never let anything crush them. The road to fulfillment may be slow but at the end the rewards will justify the journey. Be confident, fall in love, be sexy, be funny, be you! The rest will take care of itself.