On establishing self-confidence

A reply to a person, on a forum

I’ve always found that doing something mindlessly stupid and outrageous, such as swimming in duck ponds or going to the pub in just your boxers, can be a very helpful way of establishing self-confidence. It’s a complicated social event, and requires guts, but the kind of guts that only ever come out through despair…

The fruition of such a crazy act is that you a) know that you can do idiotic things, and therefore doing much milder, and easier things is now within your grasp, and b) you will attract a much more genuine and interesting circle of friends – the “cool” kids won’t have anything to do with you because you’ve made a bottom of yourself, and the further you can be from the “cool” kids the better, I can tell you that without even needing to know your circumstance.

It’s also a potently notable feature that much of the folks on these forums will inevitably have a stronger feminine side than lagerloutlads, and that too is a powerful and helpful thing. The trouble is balancing your male and female sides properly so that you can actually find direction, rather than aimlessly meandering.

I’m not a positive person, and do suffer from depression, although most of it is caused by thinking about things too much. I had some turbulent teenage years which culminated in some interesting and unexpected circumstances, and by my actions caused the loss of pretty much all my friends, and the trust of all my acquantainces and elders, but at the end of it all, I found myself facing a fork in the road. (you know what well known phrase is coming, doncha? 🙂 )

If I’d gone one direction, I would’ve played it safe and tried to fit in with groups of friends, taken much time and effort not to offend or to cause hurt, to live a relatively warm and content life where I put all my efforts into fitting in with everyone else and their expectations. I would’ve emerged self-conscious and socially weak, but wouldn’t have minded because I wasn’t causing anyone any problems, and so that would be OK.

The other direction involves the realisation that you have been granted a wonderful thing, life, and that you pretty much only have one chance. It’s not about getting it right, because life isn’t something that is there to get right. Life is for living, and live it I shall. If I want to jump into a dirty, freezing duck pond full of rubbish to try and cheer up a friend who’s recently broken up with someone, I’ll damn well do it, despite the risk of disease, pnuemonia, and whatever else. If I want to skydive, I’ll jump out of a plane and enjoy every second of it. If my parachute doesn’t deploy, then fair enough, I’ll die. But at least I’ll die knowing that, inside of me, I didn’t lock things away. I never thought, “What if I had done this? What if I was brave enough to have done that?”. My realisation was that I was not prepared to live life with a burden on my back containing all the false promises I made to myself, and all the things I wanted to do. Such things may have been comforting, they may have made me feel better when I saw everyone else with a burden on their back. But the burden would mean I could only walk, I could not run. And I’m a 21 year old kid who wants to run, even though it means you hurt more when you fall.

Never carry around the dream of who you want to be – be the person you want to be; the dream is just another bundle of unfulfilment.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Be different, be outrageous, but most of all just be.

My reason for living is wanting to see what’s round the corner.

Someone has set my life as a challenge, and I’m not prepared to give up. I want to see what happens. It may end up as a complete waste of time, and that’s fair enough. But it might not. Everyone has a strand of hope floating around them, it’s just that most of them can’t see it. And that’s because you aren’t looking at things properly. Get up at 4.30am tommorow morning and watch the sunrise. It’ll probably be a cloudy day and a complete waste of time. But it could be a clear sky and look absolutely stunning. You have to choose whether you get up and take the risk of seeing something beautiful, and being grateful for being one of the few people in the world who has the time and motivation to want to see something like it, or you can stay in bed and wake up feeling unrefreshed, even though you’ve had an extra 3 hours in bed.

I don’t ask for much in life and I don’t expect much. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, most of them major. I’m eternally grateful for the things that I do have, like my good friends, my fiancee, my ability to think. But these have not come easily, and they have not come quickly. I am 21 years old but I have only been alive for 6 years. I destroyed myself in my mid-teens, and for 3 years felt much the same way as you did. The only difference (metaphorically) is that I took that £5 and didn’t go and buy KFC, I went and bought a cookery book and I cooked that chicken breast. It wasn’t very nice, but I had done it and I was prepared to try to do it again. And I did, and continue to do to this day – I now enjoy cooking, the creation of something beautiful out of ordinary things, and the ability to say “This is something I have done, and I am pleased with it”. If I had gone and bought KFC, I would still be saying, “This is something I cannot do, and I am saddened by this”.

You don’t need to believe in anything. josh.org brings a helpful and worthwhile approach to the situation, and a strong belief and conversation with God can be a very positive way out of the darkness. But it’s not for everyone. And if that’s the case, the way out is to find the light.

I bought a guitar and wrote music, with what are usually read as depressing lyrics. But they are not depressing, they are uplifting, because they describe me, they allowed me to explain myself to me. Again this isn’t the answer for everyone, and that’s the difficult thing – knowing where to start.

What’s prominent here is the fact that you know you are unhappy. By nature of opposites that entails that you know what it would be like to be happy. That means that you have hope, and that’s an important thing to have. Have security in the knowledge that you know what you are looking for, you just don’t know how to get there. Walk around town and look at people, REALLY look at them. The Doctor in the smart suit, he spends most of his days saving people’s lives. But he isn’t happy, because he can’t save his own. He feels out of control, he’s lost his family due to his commitment to helping other people. The man who values life more than anything else is now considering taking his own.

The 15 year old girl with the drug problem and the baby. She’s a nuisance to society, she is something we try to ignore, something we fob off with benefit and leave in the bottom end of the town. But she looks at her baby and she smiles, because she knows that no matter how bad everything else is, no matter how much it hurts when her boyfriend beats her, she will always be able to look at her child and know that there can always be a good thing waiting round the corner.

I don’t think you’re being selfish about things, despite the obvious material gains we have over many billions of people around the world. I just think you need to look at things differently. Life does suck, we all know that. But if you accept that, you’ve already lost.

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