“Skill and confidence are an unconquered army.”
- George Herbert
Two days ago, I had an occasion to re-affirm my belief, that there is much more to our self-confidence than our looks, size and academic qualification. A gentleman, who had a couple of post-graduate degrees, including an MBA and PhD, wanted to meet me to discuss about his self-doubts. Similarly, a young girl, a college student, too, wanted to meet me to discuss about her self-doubts: her color complexion and size…
The gentleman was a HOD in one of the premier educational institutions in Mumbai. He was very articulate and spoke with good body-language… Before getting into the academic field, he had spent more than six years in the field of selling and marketing.
“Why did you switch the field?” I asked the gentleman.
“I, always, wanted to influence people,” he said, “teaching, I thought, would be the best way to go about it.”
“Do you enjoy teaching? Do you feel you are able to ‘influence’ people?” I asked.
“Yes, I do,” the gentleman replied.
“Then, what is that weighing you down?” I probed.
“I want you to analyze if my communication skills and body language are ‘up-to-the- mark’… I think I am not good at them.”
“Up-to-the-mark!” I said, slightly teasing the gentleman, “Who has set this ‘mark’ for you?”
The gentleman wasn’t prepared for that… “But, sir, I am not sure if my communication skills and body language are ‘perfect’ or not… So, you can analyze them, I think.”
“And, you think I am an ‘expert’ in that job… ‘Perfectionism’? I teased further. I did not want to beat about the bush more… So, I straightaway came to the point: “Look my friend, you have come to a man who doesn’t possess even half of your academic qualifications… I don’t head a department in a premier educational institution… You have excellent command over communication and your body language is great… Why in the world do you need a ‘certificate’ from a guy like me? Why are you undermining your worth?”
The gentleman’s face began to light up. I continued, “You love your teaching job… You feel you are able to influence young minds… You also say that you are able to earn a decent sum of money… and, above all, you say that you are able to see a good future… Aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir, I am,” the gentleman confessed.
“If so, that should be your certificate… Trust yourself… Put more love and commitment into your profession… Put all your passion and teach… There is no need to follow any ‘mark’… no need to imitate anybody… The only ‘mark’ you need to follow is the feeling within – whether you totally enjoy your work or not… whether you feel you are contributing for your students’ growth or not… Your communication and body language come from that inner space… and you are your own judge in this respect.”
Then, I said this, “Look at the irony, my friend… Despite even an MBA and Doctorate, you do not feel ‘good enough’… Is it not like being knee-deep in water and still dying of thirst?”
“It is, sir,” the gentleman confessed.
The young college-girl was dusky and plump. “I am good in studies sir… and my parents, relatives, friends and teachers love me,” she said while discussing her case, “But, my dark complexion and shapeless body disturb me… I feel low in confidence.”
This young girl was one of the ‘prettiest’ young girls I had met… I am not just saying this, I mean it. She was ‘beautiful’… She came about extremely sincere, teachable and warm. Yes, her skin was not ‘fair and lovely’ as she was brain-washed to believe… and, her size was not the one made popular by Kareena Kapoor…
“Darling, do you know that you are beautiful despite your dusky complexion and baggy shape?” I asked.
Darling only blushed!
“Your beauty stems from your self-confidence, and your confidence has nothing to do with your colour and size,” I assured the young lady, “Look at the substance hidden within and let it allow you to feel strong… Every fair-and-lovely lady or every ‘size-zero’ woman is neither confident nor awesome… Don’t get bogged down by a lie… Believe in your inner beauty and strength. Yes, meanwhile, you do work on your weight and looks. But, don’t let others decide how good or valuable you are.”
I could literally hear the sigh of relief!
Truly, there is much more to our self-confidence than our looks, size and academic qualification.
Pic.: Shoba N. Krishnan