Confidence is not store bought, but it can be cultivated.
It is what inspires the Danfo bus conductor in Lagos to shout at you, regardless of who you are to get on the bus if you are too slow. Or maybe it is the influence of alcohol.
I used to be very confident as a child. You know those children who talk high with that sort of confidence which cannot falter. I see it in my childhood pictures. My arm firmly planted on my waist, body curved and the pose speaks model. A Naomi Campbell in my mind trapped in the body of a 5-year old. That was the level of my confidence.
Being part of a school system that rewarded hardworking children with good grades added a boost. From elementary to high school, the comments were consistent, “Keep flying high, “You are a bright star, “Shine on! ” The confidence fuel pump was kept full and I never doubted it will run dry, until now.
One of my favorite characters in the 2011 movie, “The Help” is that of Aibileen played by Viola Davis. In several scenes throughout the movie, she reassures the little girl she nannies. “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Initially, that line stood out to me because of its grammatical incorrectness. I would repeat it in mockery and laugh. Yet, something happened towards the end of the movie that changed that.
Unloved by her mother, the little girl bonded more with Aibileen, “The Help”and drew strength from those same words that stood out awkwardly at first. Towards the end of the movies, I shed more than a tear when Aibileen quit her job, but repeated with the girl their favorite mantra.
As we grow into adulthood, self-doubt and fear are the leeches that threaten to feed off our confidence. Without report cards that say, “You are a bright star” or close family and friends who echo, “You is smart”, negative thoughts and feelings may threaten to undermine our abilities and potential. Be like Aibileen and make others feel good about themselves with positive words. On days when I feel like zero, I remind myself that I am responsible for my emotional well-being.
So the next time you feel down and out, walk up to a mirror, strike a pose like a confident model, hold you chin up and say, You is smart, you is important, you is beauty, you is confidence.”