Quote of the day: "If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me."- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Confidence is a funny thing. I'm sure I've written about it before, but it seems like I've been through five lifetimes since this blog began and I honestly can't remember most of it anymore. There are various reasons for this I'm sure, some physical, some psychological, but there is something that I can no longer deny: I operate a little differently now. I've identified what I think is a main reason why, and that is that I had almost completely lost all confidence in myself.
I say "had," and I'm thankful that I can, because I'm working my way back. I think most people of at least moderate mental health are primarily driven by two "sides" of their personality, their emotional side and their intellectual side. No groundbreaking stuff there, but when you dig into your own mind, you have to understand that you might not be running things quite the way you think you are.
My first side is my emotional side. That may not seem like much of a statement to you, but for me, even writing that is tough, much less admitting it to myself. To be honest, that's not the side I'd choose to run the ship. I think this was the first-developed aspect of my personality mainly because I was the youngest child for my entire childhood, and being as intelligent1 as I am, my brain quickly learned that the only way I was getting anything as far as emotional support or attention was through emotion. I was a crybaby, for a long time. I'm still kind of a crybaby.
There's a flip side to that emotional side, though. There is of course a dark side, and I have a vicious one like anyone. My dark side, I've noticed, takes hold most when defending. It's just how I'm cut, and it matters not whom nor what I defend. That might not seem like much of a dark side on face value, but what I've identified is that this is the same instinct that takes hold of me in situations where it shouldn't, such as on the road.
Road warrior. Vigilante driver. Road rage. All painfully accurate to describe me, and it is something I'm trying to change. When I get road rage, it's like I'm defending the rules of the road. It's not even personal. I get just as mad when I see things that don't even directly involve me, and that's not right. That is something that is gripping me, and forcing the most (currently) dominant aspect of my personality to react. Why does this one aspect get chosen to act, even in dire circumstances? It's got to be more than the simple "fight or flight" response. Instinct is instinct, but throughout human history (and especially my own) it has been shown that we can conscientiously avoid our own instinct for the sake of other desires. A perfect example is when you're on vacation, and you wake up hung over. Your body is very clearly telling you to drink water. I usually have liquor.
It hasn't always been the case for me, that I've been at the mercy of my own outrageous emotions. Large portions of my life have also been run by the other side of my personality, my intellectual side. In fact, I'd say the vast majority of my life has been spent at the controls of this side of myself. I think I really hit my age of reason2 around four, and that's pretty much when I turned into quite the little realist. I had a handle on what my life was like compared to many others, and I was already settling into a "grit your teeth and bear it" groove that would carry me right into and through the military.
So why? What would make me vacillate between conflicting personality traits for such extended portions of my life? Why would my brain (which has already been established to be of top notch efficiency3 ever revert to its primal, basic, established-out-of-pure-instinctual-need emotional side, especially when it's been proven time and time again that the intellectual side is the way shit gets done?!?!?!
Confidence is a funny thing.
Remember Pink Floyd's The Wall? That wall was built of pain, and is what separated the protagonist from an enriching life of interpersonal relationships. It's truly one of the most magnificent works in human history, by the way, but why I bring it up is that it's not the only type of figurative architecture we employ in our psyche.
Confidence, in my estimation, is a bit like the home of the mind. That wall that Pink built was marvelous, but it surrounded a miserable little hovel in which his fragile ego took residence. While Pink's best efforts went toward isolating himself from others, my mental masonry took the form of a marvelous mansion- a grand cathedral dedicated to the worship of every positive self-thought. In my cathedral we have Phillip, and Phillip is soooo smart. Phillip is hilarious. Phillip is handsome, and charming, and athletically gifted. Phillip treats people well, because Phillip is dying to be treated well.
I think there was a turning point in my life where that home started to crumble, but I didn't realize it was happening, even as the bricks were smashing my head. First, I got out of the military. A very core aspect of who I was and had become was that I was a Defender. I lived for something, and I lived well. Civilian life... was a transition.
Next, Sara left me. It's crazy how I'm still fucked up over that. I think the reason why is that I was just so happy with her. I really thought I'd found my match, and that was settled. I thought I'd earned the right to have a woman like that because of the person I was, but I didn't realize that not only was I not the person I thought I was, but she wasn't the person I thought she was either. I don't say that in a bad way about her; I've made peace with who she is and we weren't gonna work. I see that now, but that's my intellectual side. My emotional side is still rocked.
These two events started the crumbling of the great cathedral, and as my confidence fell apart, my emotional side took over. I withdrew, gradually but certainly, over the years. I'm only now climbing out of it. I'm not exaggerating when I say I have hardly any friends left. Not that anything really happened, but as I withdrew and slipped into deep depression, I just lost touch with everything. I stopped writing. I stopped exercising. Everything suffered. Miserable, never maintaining a job, girl, or even a friend for more than maybe... a year at a time.
So now I'm 32, trying to figure out who's left in here, who's in charge, etc. Bit by bit, I'm rebuilding the things I've always loved. I love learning, so I went back to school. I love golf, so I spent student loan money on golf clubs and a membership (and school stuff). I love writing, so I've already made this about four times longer and of a completely different topic than when I clicked "Create an Entry." I love making people laugh, and making them think, and connecting with them... not just with them, but connecting them with each other. It is through these things that I love and have always had confidence in that I rebuild my confidence, and rebuild myself. I really like who I'm building, too. Of this I am confident. Details to follow.
1. I say that, not tooting my own horn, but almost sarcastically. High intelligence can hurt you as much as help you, depending on how you live your life.
2. I use this term in the context of current theories of Developmental Psychology rather than traditional Roman Catholic canon (obviously)
3. More humor. Remember me?