Is Standing Out Really So Bad? Embarrassment and Self-Confidence

Try to imagine the last time you were in a situation where you felt supremely confident. Whether you were playing scrabble with a couple 9 years olds or doing whatever it is you do best, makes no difference. Now, do you remember the apprehensiveness that came about when you thought about how confident you were in that situation? Were you afraid that showing your higher ability in that situation would distance you from the others in the group?

There’s a certain type of fear associated with standing out in most social situations. If you are at a restaurant and sneeze, for instance, everyone notices. Or if you are in a doctor’s waiting room and you laugh far too loud, everyone looks at you. Most of us react to this situation with embarrassment or even shame. Why is that? 

Standing out implies greatly differentiating ourselves from those around us in some way. And as racism and stereotypes have taught us, anything that is different, is socially “unacceptable.” So, by definition anything that causes us to stand out is suppressed by the invisible hand of society. Right? But what about self confidence? Do we suppress this as well?

I can remember vividly being in the 5th grade and being quite happy with a grade that I received on a math test. I received the test and saw the large “A” at the top in red ink. And yet, before the surprise had even began to subside I heard my friend across from me say, “HEY! What’d you get???” Instinctually, I flipped my paper over and swiftly slipped it into my backpack, as if I had received a terrible score. My friend then proceeded to tease me for getting a bad grade, and I went on with my day feeling better about myself because I had done that. But what is wrong with this picture? Why was I, and I’m sure many others can relate, so afraid to show my own self confidence in that situation?

THE TAKEAWAY: Humans are social beings. We are hard wired to form social groups based on situations, common interests, and values. And yet, sometimes those hard wired habits lead us to suppress the very abilities that we should be proud of. So today, I challenge you to question why you suppress the outstanding qualities you have? If you have surrounded yourself with people who make you feel guilty for such qualities, maybe new surroundings are needed. If you simply feel more comfortable hiding behind the social wall, maybe its time to step into the light. In the words of the author and poet Marianne Williams,

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So please, be confident. And give others the gift that you have been lucky enough to find yourself. Shine.


4 thoughts on “Is Standing Out Really So Bad? Embarrassment and Self-Confidence

  1. in letting your light shine, it gives permission to others to let their own light shine too. There is only one thing faster than the speed of light…. and that is darkness running from the light! Cup your hands to capture total darkness then walk into a lighted room and release the darkness. Does the darkness overtake the light or does the light dissipate the dark. Now take a candle into a dark coliseum or arena and proceed to light the candle. That single candle flame will illuminate the entire stadium! So say again, let your light shine and light up the world!

    • Great analogy here Alex! (As usual! HA!) I totally agree that even a small amount of true confidence can spread far in a world of people who suppress it. What advice would you give someone who was still struggling with this in their daily lives?

  2. I think we keep our self confidence to ourselves (like not sharing a good grade) because at the time we’re more concerned about the other person feeling bad (if we do). You’re right, being self confident is an admirable quality… makes the people around you feel good and it gives them the sense they can be confident too. Lead by example!
    The only way to ruin this is to be cocky in your confidence…………nobody likes to be around people like that.

    • I totally agree with the feeling bad thing you mention here, because that is often why I don’t say certain things to people. But at the same time, I have often neglected to tell someone something that they could benefit from hearing, because I felt bad for them. For instance, if their breath smells. Although it may make them feel bad for a moment, it motivates them to do something about it, and thus, hopefully, live with fresher breath!

      Do you feel like this similar to that situation?

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