Confidence is Great, Being a Jerk is Not

Jason Weiland

There is a fine line between the two

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“You’re the biggest jerk I’ve ever met!”

I put down my Big Mac and listened to the conversation at the next table. I didn’t want to look like I was eavesdropping, but her words piqued my interest. I wanted to hear what was going on.

I’m a people-watcher and listener.

From what I could gather, an interview was going on. The girl was a twenty-something and dressed far too well for a job at a fast-food restaurant.

The store manager had a smug look on his face.

“All I said was you used to work as a secretary, so you must know how to make coffee. Most women in offices make coffee.”

I had to catch the reaction on her face, so I peeked over in time to see her response.

“Just because I was an administrative assistant doesn’t mean I made the coffee.”

The manager still had an arrogant look and sounded as though he was trying to compensate for something.

“It does in my world. I guess you don’t want the job?”

She didn’t.

There’s a vast difference between having confidence in yourself and what you say and being a knucklehead. Self-confidence is necessary for life but is something that some people have trouble saying they have. On the other hand, some have more than they should, like this fast-food manager.

We could fix many of the problems we have trying to relate to each other if we interacted with kindness and empathy; if we didn’t always have to get our way and let our privilege and entitlement show.

Confidence is terrific, but not when it’s used as a weapon to make someone else uncomfortable. We often hear of men stepping out of bounds or mansplaining, but it comes from the other gender as well.

We do, after all, have the Karens of the world to deal with.

Less is Not More

Confidence is necessary for every part of our lives. Without it, we’d be unable to do things like go out on a date or lead an important client meeting at work.

I struggled with not having enough confidence for most of my young life. I was a smart child, but I still doubted if I was smart enough. I always compared myself to others. If I didn’t measure up, I lost even more of my poise.

Confidence in Yourself

When I was older, I was the manager of a creative group within a huge company. I couldn’t afford to second-guess myself. Through trial and error, I developed the confidence I needed to thrive in that position. And, even though I’d built up a lot of self-confidence, I never let it go to my head. I never became arrogant.

I knew, as a manager, I was only as good as the people within my group. Even though I had the final word, I always considered my team’s thoughts and feelings. This practice kept me from thinking I had all the answers.

I was a leader.

I had supervisors who were bosses. A boss sits in a big office and makes decisions without thinking of the impact it will have on the team. A boss is big-headed.

I didn’t want to be big-headed.

Later, when I started writing professionally, confidence was necessary for me to publish my work on the internet. There was a constant battle with imposter syndrome. I always wondered if I was good enough to call myself a writer. It’s natural to compare your work to others, but it’s also the easiest way to disaster.

I had to trust myself. I had to develop a thick skin because criticism from others can be a damaging blow to my self-esteem. I’m not perfect, but now I have a lot of confidence in my writing abilities.

I also didn’t have a lot of self-assurance for a long time when it came to my appearance. The biggest thing that helped me was the love of my wife.

When I met her almost ten years ago, I wasn’t feeling great about myself. I was a sad shut-in who wasn’t used to having a conversation. The first time we talked, I said only a few words. She did the rest of the talking. Of course, it did get better because, after all, we got married.

She made me feel desirable, exciting, and intelligent. I could feel my confidence growing every time I talked to her. When I knew that she loved me back, my self-esteem was through the roof, and I believed in everything right in the world. If a woman as unique as she loved me, there had to be miracles.

The other day we were talking, and she told me something I’ll never forget. She said: “You know what I found most attractive about you? It was your confidence!” I enjoyed telling her the reason I was confident was because of her.

Be Confident, not Arrogant

Confidence comes in many forms. You can have confidence in your abilities. You can feel good about yourself as a person, and you be self-assured in your appearance.

Whatever you do, don’t become too confident. Be realistic. Too much confidence can easily lead to arrogance. Nobody likes an egotistical person.

There is a middle ground, a balance, to everything. Find the balance, the yin-yang, and never allow yourself to tip over into jerk territory. We have too many assholes, mansplainers, know-it-alls, and snobs in this world.

Don’t be one of them.

The world would be a lot better place if we stopped trying to prove we are better than everyone else and used empathy when we deal with each other. Life doesn’t always have to be a competition to see who can one-up the other person.

Life doesn’t have to resemble the comments section of a political Facebook post, where everyone is trying to make the other person look stupid. We don’t always have to be contrary. We can choose to see eye-to-eye if we know the difference between confidence and being a worthless jerk.

Find the level of confidence that’s best for you.

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Writer and advocate interested in mental health, health, family, culture, creativity, and success.

Los Angeles, CA
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