How To Be Confident When You Are not

Asmita Karanje

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Confidence comes from knowledge — knowing about the subject, topic, field of interest, city, people, skills, anything that you are an expert in will give you confidence in that matter. Now, that’s cliche. You know that already.

But what happens when you don’t know?

When you visit a new city or when you are into a new role, or you are amidst a new setting. You instantly assume that everyone else around you knows more than you do. What if I told you, they don’t or even if they do, act as if they don’t? What if they are just a bunch of idiots who appear to be confident in their skin, can you reciprocate their body language?

Confidence is a lot about how others perceive you, and if they validate your thoughts and beliefs.

We, as humans, are social animals, and we flourish in an environment where our thoughts are accepted. The reason so many people who are the so-called creme-de-la-creme in their field are successful is that they have the steely support from their million followers who validate their content, what they say and even what they don’t.

Again, I am not undermining the skills or creativity of anyone — I clearly understand the correlation between good content and confidence because that is obvious. What isn’t apparent though is the confidence that an average Joe would showcase. This guy knows little to nothing about this topic. He has never spent even 10 mins to dig deeper into the subject and get his facts right. He has no opinion or view that he can call his own and he would typically sway into the direction that the herd would be following.

Compare this to a genius Jamie who has done his research, probably spoken to ten different people and knows there isn’t one best solution — maybe there are a million alternatives and can’t decide. Sometimes he isn’t half as confident as our average Joe.

Unfortunately, this is where we are heading in the world today. And for those who have not heard this concept before, it has a term — it is called the Dunning-Kruger effect

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Source - BT ILLUSTRATION: KENNETH LIM

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect

What it means is that people have a cognitive bias because they are ignorant of the scale or metrics of comparison. They do not have enough knowledge to judge their abilities, and so they form opinions based on the minimal understanding of how the world operates.

We have so many examples in our daily lives.

Our colleagues in the office who have seen the glass either half full or half empty. Our parents who would sometimes advise us based on their experiences alone, which can be archaic for our times. Those blind followers who lean too much in one direction politically (right or left) or even that cocky old lady in the metro who judges you without a word exchanged between the two of you. They are everywhere.

Now knowing this backdrop, it isn’t that difficult to appear confident, huh?

You know you aren’t a shithead. You know your game. You have gotten so far and you will go far more miles before you bend that knee. You won’t be right each time, but you aren’t afraid to explore the unknown terrain. Play catch-up at times, but once you know the rules, you are going to ace the game baby.

It isn’t some pep talk, but this is what I genuinely believe. Call me egotistical if you’d like, but I know this helps in being self-confident. Knowing that the world doesn’t know it better than I do, we are all in it together, looking at things from a different perspective. There is no right and wrong, just forward and sometimes a step backwards. The concept is particularly useful if you are going against the tide. And hope it helps you too.

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX
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