I remember being asked a question I was so scared of hearing, “Who are you? Who is Angelica?” I can say in all my vulnerability, I didn’t know how to answer. I realized I placed myself in a situation where I fully lost sight of who Angelica was. Everything I was (and sometimes am), was for the benefits of everyone else around me. In that moment I knew I could answer her with: Angelica is a good daughter, a good employee, and a good friend! I stopped myself because I internally asked, “Who am I for myself?” Just as the expression I gave her, my answer was blank.
My surrounding circumstances had won. In the middle of supporting, loving, helping to build, and even holding my loved ones; I completely forgot to do those things for myself. I’m a fixer, and boy do I get obsessive about fixing things for others. My family is the closest thing to my heart and I would 100x prefer for someone to mess with me than my family (friends included). I will bend over backwards and back around when it comes to my close circle, which, don’t get me wrong is a very selfless quality, but also a very dangerous one. In that moment I saw that all I was, was broken. I was in pieces and continued giving small pieces away because I felt I at least have something to contribute!
I came home that night and paced within the thoughts of my mind. “Why Ange, why do you feel such an urge to give so much?” “Am I a bad person if I’m honest about what I need? Does that make me selfish?” “What if my parents think I’m ungrateful for not being able to or even wanting to help?” “My friends would eventually not be my friends if I stay home because I’m too tired to go out.” As my thoughts piled up on top of me, I had an “ah-ha” moment: every thought had to do with what someone else thought about me. As I crawled out from underneath my thoughts, I saw that I found more importance in what others needed from me, then what I needed from myself.
I concluded that I didn’t have the confidence to say no. I didn’t have the confidence in my friendships to say not today. I didn’t have confidence with my parents to say right now is not a good time, and it’s because I didn’t have confidence within my self to be firm about what I needed. I thrive, I mean THRIVE, off of compliments like, “Angelica thank you so much for helping out.” “You’re so sweet, you didn’t have to, but I appreciate it.” “Seriously, you’re amazing for doing this.” My confidence was derived from what I could do for others. The more I did, the more confidence I felt, but that also meant, the less I did, the less confidence I had. I felt bad for having needs, I felt bad for not helping others, and I felt like if I wasn’t amazing for giving a hand ALL THE TIME…then what was I? Who was I?
As I took a look at the thoughts that clouded me, I saw a glimpse of clarity among it all. I avoided trying to figure me out by filling in who I can be for others, because it’s safer to be liked and needed. We’ve all heard, “practice makes perfect,” well I perfected being needed and used. I chose everyday to be there for everyone else, I chose everyday to break myself a little more to still have pieces to give, and I chose everyday to neglect my needs. In that moment I realized the confidence I practiced was to be validated by others. I faked confidence, I allowed everyone to have confidence in me, even though I didn’t have it in myself. According to the definition google gave me, confidence is: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. Others could rely on me, but I couldn’t rely on myself.
See, confidence is not a trait someone just has. Confidence is a skill set. You build a skill by practicing it everyday. I didn’t have the discipline of choosing confidence for myself. I falsified it by allowing others to have it for me. Even as I write this, I’m still dumbfound with myself - I falsified it because I was afraid of failing myself. It was easier to trust my abilities with helping others then it was for myself. I relied on others telling me who I was, because I couldn’t say those things for myself. My falsified sense of confidence came from wanting everyone to think I had it all together. I thought about confidence as a trait that I HAD TO HAVE, not something I should build. If anyone saw me for who I was…broken…than I wouldn’t be amazing, smart, dependable, nor worthy. Just like that, I understood that I do all these things because I feel the need to EARN people’s validation.
In this moment of clarity, I knew I had to make a choice. I had to choose between continuing to falsify this belief or choose to have confidence with where I was and where I want to be. I had to choose to build the discipline in choosing confidence. My first step with that, was having confidence that where I was, wasn’t where I’d stay. I accepted that I was not okay, and that was okay. I accepted that I had to learn, and I gave myself compassion to learn from trial and error. Confidence comes with hesitation, you can’t have one without the other. Hesitating is not a weakness, it is a normal human reaction. Being scared is a right, it’s not a declaration. The beauty of feeling hesitation, is learning to choose confidence. It’s learning to build it in different situations, it’s seeing it grow with every circumstance you get put in.
We are taught that confidence is a trait one must just have. We are taught confidence is simply just being sure of yourself at all times. We are taught confidence is not needing anyone else. We are taught if you don’t have it, you better fake it. May I say, you don’t need to have it all together. It is okay to admit that how others have needed you, may be the same way that you need them. It is okay to doubt your abilities in moments of uncertainty. We are human beings, we will fail. They’re not called life lessons because we get it right from the beginning. Lessons are things that teach us, they challenge us to think differently, and they teach us to look for solutions. What happens if we fail? We review the lesson and we try again. Our confidence, our ability, is not given, it’s forged.