Last night I went to see the movie The Help with two of my friends. I didn't like it better than the book, but for a book turned movie, it was very good. Abilene's attempt to instill confidence in Elizabeth's poor daughter with the lines "you is kind, you is smart, you is important" got me to thinking about confidence.
When I'm teaching kids, the number 1 way I develop their confidence is to build their independence. I wish I had a video of the day a girl in my summer school class put up a chair by herself with no help. To her, it was more exciting than winning the lottery or even extra recess. When a child proves to themselves they can do something, there is no greater confidence booster.
I remember being told more than once by people older than me that we gain confidence as we get older. Certainly in some areas of my life, I have absolutely gained confidence. In others though, I disagree with this statement. Here is a brief list of times I have exhibited confidence:
*I have a friend that I have gone to school with since kindergarten. Our paths really crossed in high school when I started dating one of his friends. Somehow I found out that he did not like me, for reasons I cannot remember now. What I do remember was my reaction, which was to make it my personal mission in life to get him "on my side." I made a serious effort to get to know him better, and he ended up being one of my best friends in college. I showed confidence in my belief that if he knew me better, he would like me.
Okay fine, this picture makes it look like he still doesn't like me, but I am dressed as a 50s housewife and he is a ?, so who knows really!
*In July 2004, I got on a plane and traveled to the other side of the world by myself. I showed confidence in my belief that I could do it on my own.
*In college, I had the same roommate all 4 years, still one of my best friends. Ash is a very smart and beautiful girl and many BC boys had crushes on her. A couple of times, they were turned down by her, and then decided I was the next best thing. Yeah... no amount of Keystone Lights can make that seem like a good idea :) (funny story now though!) I showed confidence in my belief that I am better than that.
*In September 2007 some crazy person put 22-year-old me in charge of 21 kindergarten kids. I showed confidence in my belief that I could keep them safe, make them love school, and maybe even teach them to read.
*In April 2009 I started a blog. I showed confidence in my belief that someone, somewhere might actually care to read my stories.
Would I still do all of these things? Well, I'm sure I wouldn't get on a plane and move to Australia :) Experience improves our confidence as we get older. I have already jumped on that plane to Australia, I know I can do it and don't need to do it again to prove it to myself. I have already survived that first year of teaching and 4 years after it, I know I am a good teacher. By the time you reach your mid/late twenties, you've had people criticize you, you've failed many times, and hopefully you've come out stronger on the other end.
But, circumstance may also lower our confidence. In college, my confidence was tested weekly in many different ways. I was constantly put in situations that were unfamiliar, and forced to take new risks. I would still say my confidence continues to be tested on at-least a weekly basis, but now it's very often at work in very similar ways. Therefore, 90% of the time, it involves having confidence in myself as a teacher. I think when we "grow up" we have to really force ourselves to not get too comfortable :) That's especially hard for me because I am not a big risk taker, and I love comfort. Also, with my dearest husband- risks now involve much scarier things like helicopters with no doors...
Tell me about a time you showed confidence :) Do you think your confidence has improved with age?