Monday, December 05, 2011

The Lesson I Learned from Laryngitis

Before I got married, I remember dating a guy I thought was terrific.  I met him on vacation and, of course, we talked a great deal at the beginning.  But, after a day or so, I started to get laryngitis.  We continued to spend time together and it seemed as if he liked me more and more.  Because I couldn’t talk, I started to spend a lot of time nodding and smiling.  He seemed to like that and I didn’t have much choice at the time, so I went with it.
When I finally got my voice back and I started talking (and definitely having opinions), he seemed shocked and not thrilled that I was someone different than he had thought.
It was sort of a surprise to both of us.  He hadn’t realized what my personality was really like and I hadn’t realized he was the kind of guy that didn’t like my personality.
The reason I bring this up is that sitting there unable to talk, I lost a little of my confidence.  It seemed sometimes as if I became what the situation called for, not necessarily my true self.  
I really like this description of confidence that I read on the blog, Puttylike:
Confidence is having absolute assurance in yourself. It’s trusting that your character will carry you through situations, and it’s the belief that you have the personal power necessary to change your life and the world.
Conversely, a lack of confidence means a lack of power. When you’re feeling insecure, you feel helpless, weak, unsure of yourself. You also become reliant on external validation. Other people’s opinions mean a lot. Behaviorally, this means that you take fewer risks, you don’t express yourself, you take up the minimum amount of physical space, follow others, and so on.
Your confidence fluctuates throughout the day, depending on what you’re doing, where you are, and who you’re around. If you happen to be around someone who makes you uncomfortable (either because they themselves lack confidence and are judging you, or because you simply perceive them to be judging you), there’s a good chance that your confidence will wane.
And when your confidence wanes, you begin to take on the traits of an insecure person. You begin to embody passivity and powerlessness. You get silent and become disconnected from your needs, thoughts and emotions. You may hear other people’s voices and opinions in your head, but it’s hard to distinguish those from your own.”
I may have just lost my voice on that vacation, but I began to lose my identity and become less than who I was.  It’s tempting sometimes to not allow your full self to come through as it can make relationships easier, but I have found that those relationships where you cannot be yourself are not worth being in no matter what part of life they reside.