Confidence never goes out of style

June 11, 2016

I believe that life wants us to succeed. Life wants us to shine. Life wants us to feel good about who we are and what we stand for.

Confidence is a good thing.

Confidence is sometimes confused with arrogance. They are two different things.

Confidence isn’t attention seeking. Confidence isn’t concerned with external rewards or recognition.

Confidence doesn’t care what other people think about you. Confidence only cares about what you think of yourself.

Historically I have struggled with confidence because I misunderstood it.

I thought in order to be confident I had to constantly beat my own drum, but that felt uncomfortable, so I beat myself up instead.

Years ago I bought myself a fitted brown canvas coat with a subtle orange striping running through it.

I felt really good wearing that coat. It made me feel cosmopolitan and sophisticated.

I was working at a university in the Midwest at the time. My parking spot was across campus from my office. (Another universal truth… Thou shalt not be assigned a nearby parking space on a college campus).

Sometimes, when the lake-effect snow set in, I bemoaned my parking spot.

But on this particular fall day, the sun was shining through the red and gold leaves. I was wearing my brown canvas coat with my favorite jeans and a pair of high heeled boots.

As I walked to my office, I noticed people noticing me.

The Bee Gees started singing Stayin’ Alive inside my head.

I swung my long hair when I walked like I was in a Clairol commercial.

I smiled at everyone I passed, and they smiled back.

I thought to myself, “These people are loving me today!”

By the time I reached my office, I was pretty sure I was the hottest chick on campus.

I fumbled a bit with the buttons on my jacket as I prepared to sit at my desk. Something wasn’t right.

I looked down to discover that I had misbuttoned my coat by not just one but two buttons.

Suddenly I noticed that my collar sat at an awkward angle, nearly reaching my ear on one side, and pulled down to the base of my throat on the other.

And just like that, my bubble burst. Because my self-satisfaction was based on external approval, I was humiliated by my error.

I can laugh about this memory now, because I’m residing at a different, deeper place within my heart.

I still have that coat, and I still love it. The lining is ripping out. After a dozen years and two kids it’s a little snug.

But I keep it because it makes me happy to see it hanging in the closet.

That coat means something different to me now. Owning it doesn’t make me feel like a fashion icon. Because really, who cares about being a fashion icon?

I like that coat because when it’s buttoned correctly it’s functional and just the right weight for fall and spring. I like that coat because it is very “me.”

Like my brown coat, when worn properly and with the right attitude, confidence never goes out of style.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on June 11, 2016.