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Fahckmylife's Blog
Crap adult, OK human.

Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur

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‘You’re very opinionated.’

‘You’re very cocky.’

‘You’re not as clever as you think you are.’

‘You’d be great if you used your brain and weren’t so lazy.’

‘You sure you’d be able for that?’ (about furthering my education)

These are all sentences that people (mostly men, if I’m honest) have said to me in the past.  To be honest I don’t know where these opinions came from, possibly because if I feel confident enough to voice my opinion on a subject I know what I’m talking about, and will be quite forceful in being heard.

I know I don’t always put my best foot forward when it comes to using my brain or even presenting myself as someone capable of holding an intelligent conversation – I drink and smoke a fair bit, I’m quite working class and I have quite a lot of brain fog but I still wonder why people are so quick to underestimate me or obstinately challenge me about this.  Sure, I get drunk and fall over calling people ‘geebags’, say stupid things out loud that I should have thought through before they came out of my mouth and I definitely have done dangerously impulsive things in the past, but overall I don’t understand where these assumptions come from.

Now I’m not looking for validation here and I’m not being cocky either.  Not that I hold a crazy amount of faith in IQ testing but my IQ is, believe it or not, significantly above average.  In saying that I am lazy and have a really short concentration span (although I think that is partially due to my own anxiety).  I could read and write by the time I was three, started reading Stephen King when I was 9 and wrote my first full length book (about vampires, fucking cringe) when I was 10.  I did alright in the memory test, that is the Leaving Certificate, in 1999 despite leaving most of the exams early (again because I couldn’t sit still) and did fairly well in college with minimal effort.  These are just facts, this isn’t cocky.  This isn’t me holding up some sign asking people to tell me I’m great, but y’know, I’d rather if they didn’t assume that me simply stating the facts of the situation is not me having a massive ego either.  And also, it would be nice not be patronised either.  I’m tired of having things I already know and didn’t ask for, explained to me already because there is the presumption there that I don’t understand.  I’m exhausted of saying the exact same thing as the person beside me but not getting listened to while they’re applauded.

Let me pick the above phrases apart that each came from a different person at a different period in my life:

 

‘You’re very opinionated’

 

This translates to me as ‘you think too much’ and in the context of this particular situation the implication extended to include a silent but deadly ‘for a girl’.  I would not consider myself particularly outspoken but I do call out bullshit when I feel equipped to defend my views.  Do you know how difficult it is to try and stand up for your beliefs, or even counter an argument in a non-aggressive way when you have continually been told that you’re wrong your whole life?  Having an opinion on something that you feel well informed on does not make you difficult – it makes other people look apathetic and weak.  By no stretch am I saying that I have opinions on everything, but I am willing to listen to people when they have them and I wouldn’t think less of someone for having a well thought out argument regardless of their stance.  Part of me wonders if men encounter this and, as was implied by the above sentiment, is it viewed as a negative thing that a woman wants to express her own thoughts.  Like am I supposed to sit by and just let people talk at me about things when I feel that they are just plain wrong?

 

You’re very cocky.’

 

This refers to me appearing confident about my brain juice.  It actually could be applied to other situations as well and is very problematic.  Let me just state I am not cocky.  I struggle with self-confidence on a daily basis in many aspects of my life.  I base how I feel about things on solid evidence – particularly about myself.  It’s only in the last few years that anybody, and I literally mean anybody, has used the phrase ‘clever’ to describe me.  Up until then I simply didn’t consider that I was and the above response was when (again a guy) told me I was ‘clever’ to which, in the style of Han Solo I replied ‘I know.’  Not that I really did know that I was for a fact, despite my various academic accomplishments, but simply because I just thought it was funny and the response was simply an effort to tear me down because they felt that I could only be boosted by somebody else.  I mean, even if it weren’t said in jest, what is wrong with me actually having a little faith in myself – because up until that point I was the only one that did?

 

 

 

 

You’re not as clever as you think you are.’

 

I remember this distinctly because I was shocked that this person, my boyfriend at the time who was for the most part lovely, uttered these words to me out of nowhere.  I had never said that I thought I was clever.  I was weighing up options for my future plans and was waiting for exam results.  I had never acted like I thought I knew everything.  I was silly and naïve but I was like a sponge for absorbing information.  Another attempt to put me down?  What was I doing exactly that made me seem like I thought I was crazily clever?  Should I have been quieter and more demure? And how clever exactly did he think I thought I was?  Can I not have realistic confidence in my own abilities?  Fuck him anyway, because I even exceeded my own expectations and as a result his.

 

‘You’d be great if you used your brain and weren’t so lazy.’

 

At the time I was studying for a Masters and working two jobs – one as a TV production lecturer and the other in a call centre.  I was also writing and busy with day to day stuff.  I was not lazy and I was using my brain but because people like to assume they know everything without actually asking this was the conclusion that was reached.  I accept the fact that I don’t always use my brain to the best of its abilities but I also know that I have never stopped using it.  I think sometimes people have ideas as to what constitutes a good use of your brain and in a lot of cases this equates to how much you earn.  If that is the case all plumbers must be in MENSA (which they could be for all I know).

 

 

‘Are you sure you’d be able for that?’

 

These shocking words were uttered by a close and dear friend when I mentioned my application to a PhD program.  Although this person is awesome and a dear friend I’m always going to feel a bit hurt when I think about it.  In fairness, I did leave the PhD without completing it for many reasons, but I don’t think my ability was one of them.  Eventually the person conceded that I was not overreaching my abilities but by then I was already hurt, that someone I knew so well would doubt me and my own judgement like the majority of people I had encountered had.

 

What I am completely unsure of is how I come across as being cocky exactly?  Is it because I seem to have ideas above my station, what with me having a vagina and coming from Finglas?  It’s not like I’ve refused to ever listen to other people and their own views.  It’s not like I rant at people and not let them talk while I dictate the course of the conversation.  It’s not like I think I am better than other people.  So how is me knowing myself, and in a very realistic way, bad?  Or am I supposed to have lowered my opinion of myself sufficiently that validation from another is the only thing that is supposed to bolster my confidence?

Irish people are really into putting each other down, or giving out about people that are confident, whether it be about looks, ability or if they have money.  It seems like a weird envious thing and also a modesty that I can only see really resulting from the fact that Catholicism had such a massive hold on the country for so long.  We should feel guilty for everything and nothing that we have done for ourselves, developed or learned was actually our own doing – it was all part of God’s plan.  Whether or not you chose to believe this or not, religion has played a massive part in our education system and if the nuns taught me anything we should feel guilty and not reach for things that are beyond our limited means, let alone excel and be proud of them.  And remember all the while, not to give poor boys the idea that you’ll have sex with them, because naturally women are temptresses and men lack the control to hold back.

Even aside from the religious aspect in our schools (I’m not so sure about it now although as my child does not go to a religious school I have heard some crazy stories) the emphasis on learning things off by heart seems to not teach people to engage with their subjects, or think critically at all, and that I think, is especially now with fake news sites, stupid leaders and so many international and national issues an extremely important skill to have.  The thing is that Ireland has a relatively decent education system, with a nice variety in subjects taught but there is a massive gap in knowledge that is not being addressed.  Education does not stop after school and college is overrated – knowing that there is more knowledge to acquire and being open to that is liberating.  There is always more to learn.  There is always more to hear.  There is always more to see.  And I have accepted that and refuse to believe that I am going to stop learning something.  I mean I always want to be, be it a skill, or something more abstract and if acknowledging that and being confident in my ability to do so is cocky you can go fuck yourself – figuratively, not literally.

I think intelligence is something that is measured on a very narrow spectrum today when there are various different types of knowledge and skill that are not recognised that are incredibly important.  Communication skills and the ability to read and interact with people are immensely valuable.  People that speak multiple languages fluently, particularly people who have to learn English, fucking amaze me.  When people can pick up an instrument and know how to play a song that they’ve only heard a few times it makes my bits swell.  The creativity that artists possess is something I am exceedingly jealous of.  Getting a bullseye in anything is a serious fucking skill.

 

I have a favour to ask you all today and I think it is a positive and sweet thing to do.  Pick a person you care about and tell them what they are good at.  They mightn’t need to hear it, and they might already know, but there’s a chance that they don’t and that your encouragement will push them in the right direction.

 

It’s not wrong to want to learn in whatever means possible.  It’s not cocky to be confident in your own abilities.  There’s a difference between being arrogant, deluded and confident and if you can’t see that you’re a bit of a sap, ain’t ya?

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