Build Confidence One Skill at a Time
I’ve been on a “Jeopardy!” kick lately. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or that I find Alek Trebek’s voice subconsciously soothing, but I’m pseudo-obsessed. A few nights ago I was tuning in with a teenage cousin. “How do you know all of this stuff?” she asked after I correctly answered several questions. I told her that I like to read and learn new things, to which she replied “Ehh, reading is boring.” I would have said the same thing at 15.
While I might still watch “Saved by the Bell” and play “The Legend of Zelda” games on a semi-regular basis, I’ve done my fair share of exploration since my teens. I can say with confidence that by expanding my horizons, by exposing myself to new things (arts, sports, business, etc.), I’ve became more confident. I was a shy, slouching, afraid-of-my-own-shadow type at 15. By pursuing new interests and discovering new talents, I’ve become better-rounded and more confident.
Gaining new skills breeds confidence. Whether you learn the or figure out how to shred on the guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen, figuring out stuff proves that you’re able to adapt to the world, that you can accomplish things. There’s something to be said for obsessive devotion to a skill, but sticking to just one interest is not only boring, it’s unhealthy. Many successful people are skilled at more than one thing. For example, Bill Clinton’s a decent saxophone player. Say you’re an MMA fighter; why not take up gardening?
I spent my late teens/early 20s obsessing over music. Most of my waking hours were spent writing songs, recording, booking shows, promoting, etc. I didn’t work out, didn’t read or do much of anything beyond play guitar and spam message boards. When I started to branch out, to pursue new interests, my life got noticeably better. I realized that there were not only many more things to be excited about in life, but that I was good at more than just playing in a band. I started to run regularly, pursue a writing career and pick up a slew of new hobbies. By maintaining interest in many things, I started to maintain my self-confidence. Being skilled at more than one thing made me feel better about myself. I could play power chords, run for miles AND write ad copy. Hey, that stuff’s cool to me at least.
Being better-rounded makes you not only more likely to win trivia nights and decathlons, but more aware of your skill set. I never knew I could make a living as a writer until I branched out from my safe, familiar existence. Now I not only feel confident on stage, but online.
There’s staying true to oneself and one’s individuality and then there’s being stubborn, close-minded and stagnant. Pursue new interests and you’re bound to build your confidence. Who knows? You might be an incredible breakdancer and not even know it.
About John Brhel John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.