It is a difficult thing to acknowledge about ourselves, isn’t it? We might say it and at the same time we may not really believe it because most of us know, deep down, that it is not really true. Then again some of us might really believe that we are indeed failures and may have several examples of how and why it is true. Some of us might say it because we know it is not really true, but we want or need to hear someone else argue with us about it. It might go something like this:
“I’m a failure and I suck“. “No you aren’t, and no you don’t. Why would you say that about yourself?”
We don’t really need to ask why someone else might believe they are a failure enough to say it out loud. We all feel like we are failing or have failed at something so it is pretty easy to relate to. Admitting to failure is exposing a vulnerability; exposing a vulnerability to someone else is risky. In a way, saying “I’m a failure and I suck” and waiting to see the reaction is like checking to see if the person you say it to is trustworthy. Will they attack you, or will they validate you by arguing against this kind of self assessment?
This kind of exchange indicates a lack of self-confidence on the part of the person saying it. Lack of confidence in oneself is one of the most unpardonable sins there is in our society. Nobody wants to be lacking in self-confidence and even more than that, nobody wants anybody else to know they are lacking in self-confidence. This is why admitting to failure is exposing a vulnerability. Lack of self-confidence is a weakness.
People will lie to themselves to hide a lack of confidence. They will also be dishonest in certain situations, become Academy Award Winning Actors in the effort to hide a lack of confidence. Those of us who are good actors can usually get away with it at least for a while, maybe even long enough to develop genuine self-confidence. This is the whole point of the cliché “fake it until you make it“.
There is no shame in faking self-confidence until it becomes genuine self-confidence if you can figure out how to do this successfully. On the other hand, there is loads of shame in faking self-confidence, getting caught and utterly failing to pull it off. There are all kinds of people in the world around us, and many of them thoroughly enjoy exploiting such a weakness for their personal enjoyment. Maybe it makes them feel superior.
Maybe they are just much better actors and by pointing out the lack of acting talent in others takes the attention off of them. But it is pretty devastating and humiliating to be the one who has failed to hide one’s lack of self-confidence. That inability to behave in a confident manner in front of others especially when it is important to do so can get a lot of opportunities taken away from you.
The trick to being genuinely self-confident is preparation; but I am also getting ahead of myself. First, those of who identify as failures. let’s just sit here and consider it for a little while. We have failed; it might be a little failure, it might be a big failure, it might be a series of failures and a couple of successes we don’t really think about because we are focusing on those failures.
We may say “I am a failure” and another voice may say “no you aren’t. Don’t be silly.” Or we may say it and then wait and hope another voice says “no you aren’t. Don’t be silly“, because yes, there is comfort in knowing other s have our backs and care about us enough to argue with us against that self-defeating vulnerability exposing lack of self-confidence. But right now what we may need a little bit more is this…
“I am a failure and I suck. So now what?”
It stings a little bit doesn’t it? But we are still here. There might be hardships but they are not insurmountable. The sky and the ceiling are still up there, they haven’t fallen down. Look out a window, the world has not ended. Look at your loved ones, they don’t love you any less. Life has not ended. It is not going to end just because you failed; or because you have a series of failures. Most of us will fail repeatedly for much of our lives. All it means is we have not stopped trying.