Credo of a Confident Man
Confidence. Perhaps the most elusive and abstract term shoved in the face of every male since we’ve been old enough to not understand what it means. Whenever we’re faced with a make-or-break situation—from a job interview to a first date with our dream girl—we’re advised, “Remember to be confident!” We’re expected to just know what that means, as if it were as simple as remembering to brush our teeth.
Often confidence is paired with the other great pearl of masculine wisdom, “Just be yourself.” Surely, we can all recall someone calling after us as we stepped out to face some epically daunting task: “Be confident and be yourself and everything will be fine!” While the speakers surely had our best intentions in mind, did they not realize how absurdly difficult it is to “be confident and be ourselves” when we’re scarred shitless and we have no idea what “being confident and being ourselves” even means?
Does being confident mean being a huge asshole? Surely I’ve encountered enough confident assholes to make a case for synonymous usage. And, how about “be myself?” Does that mean do what I want to do? If that’s the case, I’d whittle away most of my time napping and eating cereal. Surely that has to be a hidden meaning underneath these cryptic adages…
There is, but it’s not incredibly hidden. To understand confidence is to understand rational self-interest. The reason no one makes a case for synonymous use between confidence and rational self-interest is because people are afraid of admitting the truth. They want to idea of confidence to fit in with their “feel good” pop philosophy. So I’m not writing for the feel-gooders or the abstraction addicts. The world has a special place for you people—it’s called the Hallmark Store.
I’m writing for the men out there who, like me, want to enjoy the benefits of “being confident.” We want the dream job, the dream girl, the dream life. So we want to make sense of confidence. We’re not looking to feel good with abstraction. We’re looking to live well with specifics. And so I write today the credo of a confident—which might just as easy read as the credo of the rational self-interested man (with a kind heart.)
Too many men put the wants, needs, and aspirations of others over their own wants, needs, and aspirations. Sure this sounds great on paper—and especially great when printed on glossy Hallmark cards—however, these men don’t realize they’re jeopardizing their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of our hyper-sensitive culture that people are suckled on the belief that other people have more of a right to their time, money, and well-being than they do.
Every week, I get at least a dozen letters from men all over the world who ask me how they can stop being “the nice guy.” These men know their niceness isn’t winning them any fans or favors—women only think of them as “their friend,” employers exploit their time and energy, and friends walk all over them, yet they’re addicted to being the nice guy. They think acting “selfish” would be radically out of character for them. What they don’t understand, just as they don’t understand the meaning of “confidence,” is acting selfish is when they’re most “in character.”
Take Ralph. Ralph has an expensive gym membership he hasn’t used in weeks. Ralph hates feeling lethargic and out-of-shape. He’d really love to spend an hour or two a day lifting weights and jogging on the treadmill. But every time Ralph sees his running shoes calling to him from the closet, he remembers the work he needs to catch up on, the friend he needs to call, the favor he promised to do. Ralph’s gym time always gets brushed aside because of his schedule, because of promises, because Ralph feels guilty saying no.
Ralph sees his time at the gym as selfish. And he’s absolutely right. No one gains from Ralph’s gym time other than Ralph himself. Simple life choices like not going to the gym are why Ralph lacks confidence. It’s why Ralph can’t “just be himself.” And it has nothing to do with his physical appearance or well-being—it has to do with habitually depriving yourself of selfish activities to appease the needs of other people.
The facts of life are this: If you don’t safeguard your happiness, no one will. Ralph can’t blame his boss, his friends, or his busy schedule for his lack of confidence, for his despair, for his life. It’s his own fault he’s not getting out of life what he wants. The “nice guy logic” that causes Ralph to skip the gym—and every other selfish activity—is inhibiting his confidence and preventing him from “just being himself.”
Ultimately, the credo of the confidence of man is this: be selfish, but be genuinely selfish. Suspend the stigma attached to the word “selfish” for a moment to consider my point. Confident people are those who understand what they want and pursue it tenaciously. If it’s a date with your dream girl, the confident guy communicates his wants and desires without feeling guilty or squeamish about it.
For example, she may want to see “Eat, Prey, and Love” on your first date, while you secretly want to go bowling. What do you do? Do you voice what you want to do, or do you give in and see a movie you have no interest in seeing—just to make someone else happy? What to do on a first date and making time to go to the gym are trivial decisions, but that motivation behind those decisions separates the confident from the unconfident.
Hopefully I haven’t incited a spattering of selfish men onto an unsuspecting world. There’s a huge divide between being confident and being an asshole. Yes, assholes are confident—but no, you don’t have to be one to be confident. When I was applauding the virtue of selfishness, I included one key qualifying word: genuineness.
Assholes are assholes because they’re assholes. In other words, they’re assholes because they’re apathetic. Being genuinely selfish doesn’t mean disregarding the feelings of others. You can safeguard your happiness while still being a “nice guy.” It just means explaining to people why you’re choosing to go to the gym, or go bowling. Maybe you can compromise so that it fits both of your mutual interests need and interests. For example, “I’m not really in the mood to sit in a dark theater watching a movie when I want to get to know you. Let’s go bowling tonight and see a movie next time.”
Moreover, there might be instances where you genuinely care about someone so much, you actually want to appease their wants and needs. That’s the essence of successful, gratifying relationships. However, I write that with some hesitations, as many nice guys will use it to rationalize all their nice guy behavior and not become genuinely selfish, not feel confident, not pass go and collect $200.
Although, learning that balance—between when you genuinely want to do something and when you genuinely want to help another person—is learning what “be yourself” really means. As such, we’ve neatly tied together the two greatest and most mysterious adages for the modern man: “Be confident and just be yourself!” So the next time you step out to face some epically daunting task and someone shouts after you: “Be confident and be yourself and everything will be fine!” hopefully everything will be fine.
>>>To Learn More From Rob, Check Out “The 4 Elements of Game” where he breaks down game into four simple adjustments.
About Rob J. Rob J. is a writer and dating instructor in New York City. Themes that resonate in both his teaching and writing are masculinity, genuineness, rational self-interest, and general awesomeness.