Confidence VS Bravery
After receiving messages from amazing followers on Instagram, praising the bravery of sharing my naked self in a blog post about body confidence, and also saying I must be a very confident and brave guy to share what I do, I realised that people saw me differently to how I see myself.
I will let you into a secret, I am NOT as confident as you may believe, brave perhaps, but not so confident.
I have learnt to ‘fake it’, this not to be confused with ‘being fake’, Fake-ness is often regarded as a bad thing, Fake is a word that people don’t seem to like. For example if a beautiful young lady has an ample bust, but you learn they are fake, some will judge, and condemn them for having altered themselves etc. (Okay maybe not the best example, but I hope you get the gist)
Like with my experience of body confidence, confidence in general is a deep routed battle ground, One of which changes on an hourly basis depending on the situation or what happens throughout the day. Without repeating myself to much from other posts, bad health has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout my life and continue to contend with. Health has a massive impact on confidence, and can be a huge contributing factor to how regularly confidence fluctuates from strength to non-existence.
The impacts of your psychical health also effects your mental health too which drains your confidence reserves. Then there is your life experiences, that contribute to it too.
From an early age I spent a lot of time with my mum, whilst dad worked away. Intellectually I enjoyed the company of older people and as I would spend most of my time with my mum, dad and their friends this suited me and helped me develop my skills at communicating well with adults. However it alienated me from other children and I was very much a socially awkward child, preferring to interact with the teachers than others kids..
To be fair I was a bit of an odd child in general, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD from an early age, I spent a lot of time seeing different educational and learning specialists. My amazing mum knew I was different, but also knew I wasn’t stupid. After an educational psychological assessment It was discovered not only did I have a brain, I was in the top 2% with my IQ, (even I was bloody surprised as I can be as thick as shit at times, but my intelligence lay more in the creative side)
This explained a lot in regards interacting with my peers and the social awkwardness. I was confident in my interactions with adults but woefully lacked confidence with my peers, which with my oddities, like playing with dolls, arts and even then my apparent liking for boys. Led to the delights of bullying.
I have always been given encouragement and support from my parents, so in many ways confidence should not be an issue, but like having a lack of body confidence, it can happen to anyone and everyone. The more I developed the more I found that I felt alienated by my peers for being different, trying to fit wasn’t easy as I didn’t know how to, but I found one of the ways I could get a positive interaction was using a slightly more adult sense of humour. (when I mean adult, yes I mean rude, dirty and a little bit inappropriate).
As I experienced my sexuality, the ideas of sex and anything mildly amusing, I used it to my advantage to interact and make a friends group. The friends I made were also often victims of bullying with varying degrees of social interaction issues too, fellow kindred spirits.
Despite having humour as mechanism in place, my confidence was still low, Not helped by relentless bullies who would make life miserable, there were high moments, when spent with friends making them laugh, although I struggled to find my voice as a person/individual to be either be listened to properly or counted.
When I was 15 I went through a psychical & mental experience with an adult, that to this day lingers in my mind, and was one of the biggest catalysts to the scarring of my adult confidence, shattering what confidence I had built in not only with my peers but also with adults. That experience not only nearly broke me, It also made me. At the time, I felt utterly disgusted and so ashamed that I couldn’t tell anyone, not my parents, not my friends, the only person I spoke to was an utterly amazing school nurse, who went above and beyond to help me at the time and I sorely wish I could track her down now to thank her for everything she did for me.
Not wanting to bring attention to what had happened I had to find ways of burying it deep, which meant building a façade, a front to the world that would best hide the darkness that festered. Granted burying such a terrible experience is not the best idea in the world as it does exactly what I just said, it festers, and surfaces in other ways. However in building the façade, it was when I first discovered that you could FAKE confidence.
Like in cooking, ingredients were already filling a very large pot from the different experiences and more experiences were on its way….. This pot was already getting pretty full, and I was doing my upmost to keep the lid on whilst it was simmering away.
A couple of years passed, with the pot simmering away, other mishaps and experiences adding to it, there were times that my mental health was really hit hard with trying to keep a lid on it. There were thoughts in my of worthlessness, disgust, hatred and despair hurtling around my head. I continued to fake my confidence, throwing myself into college work. Art college was somewhere I felt I belonged.
Then came cancer, like a giant fucking steam train, it steamed into my life and tore through it. It was then a bravery that I didn’t appreciate or even realise I had came charging to the forefront and took charge.
I won the battle against cancer, but my life had irreversibly changed. The effects of the treatment has had an irreversible impact and whilst it was distraction from previous experiences, it added to the nearly full pot.
I was psychically and mentally exhausted trying to keep my shit together. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and ended up seeing a psychologist for two years three times a week. Something that I never thought I would be able to persist with. Proudly I did, I opened up about everything and spoke in great depth about my experiences when I was 15.
Explaining to her that I felt It was my fault, I felt dirty, tainted, broken, worthless, that I felt from that experience a darkness grew in me that caused the cancer. She helped me come to terms with it and stop blaming myself and actually helped me achieve talking more about it. (Just not enough to open up to my parents about it)
For years this helped make the pot feel less full, unfortunately life continued to add bits back to the pot until finally it completely erupted towards the end of 2018 into 2019, sending me into an emotional breakdown around the middle of 2019 where I wanted to literally walk out into the road into oncoming traffic. At some point, amongst this I opened up to my parents and told them about my experience as a 15 year old, it was one of the hardest things I have faced. They were and are utterly amazing, as are my friends & partner, they have all been so incredibly supportive throughout and my only regret is that I kept it all bottled up for so long.
Throughout my life I have used humour, sarcasm and goofing around to cover a multitude of feelings. Even in the darkest times I have used them all, granted my sense of humour has darkened as I have gotten older, but still it is a huge part of me. I still spend most of my time questioning what I am doing, continually criticising myself and what I do. Wasting so much time seconding guessing everything I say or write, and still I struggle to find my voice. That is why I have turned to blogging, to hopefully help others by sharing my own experiences.
You see with every adverse situation, every horrific experience that we face, we face fear head on, we gain the strength and courage to go forward. You have two options, curl up and let it consume you OR stand the fuck up to that fear and face it head on.. This isn’t confidence, it is survival!
When you take stock of your achievements in that light, you can be confident in knowing you are fucking strong, you are fucking brave and you can face fucking ANYTHING.
Am I confident? sometimes,
Am I Brave.. YES.