Color Me Confident

March 25th, 2014

Story originally written and experienced: December 16th 2009  

“Do you have any idea what this feels like?”

He asked me. On a playground. In Spain. When we were 20 years old. Just swinging           away.

I was on the red one.

And he took the blue.

“More than you know.” 

I told him.

As I pushed all the way backwards.

And began to swing forward after that.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Why?”

“I just can’t imagine someone like you feeling like this.”

“Someone like me?”

“You never seem sad, Olive.”

“I am though. Sometimes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Definitely.”

Rewind.

I hadn’t been sleeping well. Nothing happened. And nothing went wrong. I just spent an unusual amount of evenings these days caffeinated on thoughts from sunrise to sundown. Maybe it was the excitement of living in Europe or the anticipation of going home, but life abroad always seemed to intersect at those

t   w   o

p

l

a

c

e

s

And I wasn’t sure why.

Except.

There was this night where my friends and I had taken an exceptionally long walk around the streets of Spain. A 4 mile stroll on the cobblestone roads—only pausing to cause mischief inside local department stores.  

santa crew

When at El Corte Ingles…

 

Where we finished the evening with local pizza and pasta and reveled in a day that contributed to the countdown of our inevitable departure from a place that we temporarily called home.

 

Home. Sweet. Home.

Home. Sweet. Home.

 

We needed moments like this.

We just. Did.

And every night he would walk me back to my apartment. And this night was no exception. And as usual,

we

                                      detoured

on

our

way.

This time spotting a playground. 

alicante playground

 

And taking a seat on a bench. Where we got lost in conversation. Again

But this time he asked me.

“Olive…have you ever hated yourself?”

“Hated myself?”

“Yeah. Or at least not liked yourself.”

“Of course.”

Suddenly we saw two children scamper away from the playground. Leaving a trail of laughter on their way out. Which is when he said.

“Swings are free. Wanna go?”

“Definitely.”

>>> We approached the abandoned playground equipment. 

I took the red swing.

And he took the blue.

And I remember he asked me this on a playground. In Spain. When we were 20 years old.

Just swinging           away.

“So you do know what it feels like then?”

“More than you know.”  I said.

As I pushed all the way backwards.

And began to swing forward after that.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Why?”

“I just can’t imagine someone like you feeling like this.”

“Someone like me?”

“You never seem sad, Olive.”

“I am though. Sometimes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Definitely.”

“You seem to really have it all. To really love it all.”

“I don’t have it all, David. Not even close. But I do love what I have. And that’s just a product of quitting bad habits and bad people…pursuing new things, appreciating existing ones and recognizing that happiness really can and really does exist inside and    out   of the people and things that I already know.” 

And it was weird to say it out loud.

Not just what I said. But that I said it. To admit that I was content and proud of where I was, what I had done and who I surrounded myself with.

…Which is why I asked him.

“Why are you asking me all of this?”

Even though I already knew.

“Because I don’t think I’m a good enough person.”

I knew where this was going. It had gone there before.

“What do you mean?”

I knew what he meant.

“I don’t know. I guess no matter how many good things I do. Or how I act. I feel unsatisfied. Or even guilty for feeling good about it…as if admitting I’m proud of myself is putting me in this bubble of arrogance. Like—”

“I don’t like having these conversations with you, David. I really don’t.”

He looked at me puzzled. And mostly confused.

“We’ve had this conversation. A million times.” I continued.

“Conversations about what?”

“You. Feeling bad about things you don’t need to feel about it. Feeling insufficient in things you aren’t insufficient at. Victimizing yourself in situations where you’re not a victim. Achieving things and not feeling proud of them. It’s tiring. It’s sad. I’ve told you this. Many times.”

“I’m…sorry?”

I stopped swinging.

And looked directly  >>>         at him.

“You have everything in the world to be proud of. Everything.”

 “Like what?”

I pushed back.

And began to swing again.

“I’m not going to waste my words anymore, David. Every time I tell you you’re great you tell me that you can’t do anything right.

It’s like you’re wearing a blue a shirt and I’m complimenting it but you just keep complaining that it’s too red. 

But your shirt is blue, David. It’s blue.

We both kind of sat there for a while—the creaking of the chains serenading the silence we inevitably needed to have.

And eventually I told him that we live in a world where self-confidence is often mistaken for arrogance and being proud of yourself can feel like a crime. That one second we’re reading quote after movie after article after friend that says “Believe in yourself!” and “Prove them wrong!” and the next thing you know, patting yourself on the back means being “full of yourself” and every resume builder and cover letter demands you to “stand out” and “sell yourself!” and suddenly no achievement feels quite that big. Because you’re not chosen. Someone else is. But even if you are. Often times, it can be hindered by jealousy, guilt and a contagious negativity of making yourself feel second best. Or non-deserving.

For no reason.

At all.

I guess it kind of made me realize that confidence isn’t just one ingredient but it actually might be two.

What you have + the way let yourself feel about it.

                                 You could spend all day in the gym. And look really great.   

  And feel eternally unsatisfied when you agree to be permanently displeased with the results.

                             You could have the best job. And go to the best school.   

 And the prestige and honor would feel so wasted if you never took a moment to realize what an impressive genius you really are.

                     You could have the best looks. Or the best soul.    

And you’d never know it if you let the irrelevant opinions of others determine your self-worth.

Because there really is a difference between being humble and selling yourself short.

And it really isn’t our faults that we’re trained to achieve the best and be the best.

And yet.

Made to feel like less than that whether it comes in the form of a of a missing promotion, lackluster support or worst of all, self-inflicted dissatisfaction.

Thing is.

When you respect yourself for what you are and what you’re not.

And mix that with the realization that having confidence and having pride isn’t a crime, but actually a right?

Well. I’ve got to tell you.

It feels pretty damn good to be right.