When Confidence Isn't Sexy
By Stephanie Lynn, age 24, Massachusetts
Confidence is sexy, right? Yes ... to a point. I'm a fan of America's Next Top Model, and last night (March 4th) was the Cycle 12 two hour premiere. I admit, the one place you're sure to find me on a Wednesday night is parked in front of my Tyra-vision.
Even if you're not a fan, please bear with me through my illustration, because I'm going to make a really important point.
Last cycle fans may recall the girl who claimed the crown because she showed up. I think her name was Sharaun, age 18. A ton of confidence, a ton of attitude, and nonstop mouth (entirely about herself). She was eliminated in Week Two.
Fast forward to this season. To begin, let me say that at first Angelea had my sympathy. You can't help but pull for a poor girl from Buffalo who had to sleep at the Port Authority bus station while in New York City to try and make it on ANTM. That said, she came with the attitude that none of the other girls were any competition, and that she had this Top Model thing "in the bag". Instead of focusing on the tasks at hand, she ended up provoking an "in-your-face, step-off, girl" with Sandra, a fellow semi-finalist. (Sandra did make the Final 13, but nearly went home in Week One after an uninspired photo shoot, spared only because her look may have some potential.)
My point? Whether it's Top Model or real life, one thing I've noticed about our generation is that some of us have a faulty view of what confidence really is. Our parents, schools, friends, and the media all tell us that we need to be confident in order to succeed. And there's a lot of truth in that. A positive attitude is a key to success. However, there's also a danger ... False confidence.
What do I mean by "false confidence"? False confidence is saying you're better than someone else, whereas true confidence is a quiet internal confidence - it doesn't need to boast or put anyone else down to succeed. False confidence means you believe you will succeed because:
1. You're you.
2. You deserve it.
3. No one else is as good as you.
4. If you're loud enough, brash enough, and in-your-face enough, they will have to give you what you want, right?
This attitude-based confidence is common in teenage girls (ages 13 to 19 or so). If you don't believe me, you haven't been on your friends' Myspace pages much lately. (lol)
"Remember my name, 'cuz I'm gonna be a star. You think you know me, but you don't. F*** with me, and I'll f*** you up. I'm gonna be rich and famous before I'm 25. Blah-blah-blah ..."
Unfortunately, the Tyras of this world (bosses, teachers, co-workers, etc.) see this for exactly what it is - an act performed by an individual who needs to be loud, call other girls names we don't choose to print in this magazine, and put other people down in order to push themselves up.
Again, smart people of any age see this for what it is, and it doesn't earn the intended respect. What they really think is, "That girl is really immature; she needs to put others down and brag on herself to feel confident." Tyra feels that way, I feel that way, and we're not alone.
Real confidence is different. Real confidence comes from:
1. Liking who you are.
2. Believing you were created to be special, unique, and of value.
3. Realizing that, unless you're Lauren Conrad or Paris Hilton (and you're not), there are no shortcuts to success. It comes from hard work, talent, intelligence, patience, and treating people around you right.
4. Being kind, sweet, and nice is not being everyone's doormat. You can be respectful because deep down inside you know you're a winner. You don't need to keep saying it to everyone. You know who you are, and it's enough.
Now go work hard at your thing, be prepared to get crapped on occasionally by those with false confidence, and have fun with your life!!