Opinion: The quest for confidence

My name is Sean Gill-MacDonald, and as your Opinion Editor, I feel a weighted responsibility for making my opinion pieces pointed and assertive. And I don’t know what the heck I’m doing most of the time. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

Like most of my pieces, this idea started with the headline — which sounded cool enough in my head. Then it took a minute or two to think the concept through. And as I placed my fingers against the keys, my brain frequently cut itself off from them. As a result, I uploaded this piece two days later than our paper’s weekly deadline. While not a valid excuse, the culprit was a sneaky spectre that tends to hang out in my subconscious — a lack of confidence.

Last Thursday, I stepped out of my dungeonesque apartment for a peaceful stroll around my neighborhood. Some divine entity graced me that day with four new Gorillaz songs, which transported me back to when my adult world was still fresh and new, with all my future accomplishments still looming ahead of me. I lamented the passage of time, but each of my breaths calmly pulsed along with the rhythm of the music, as I thanked the universe for not only giving me a chance to discover the Gorillaz, but also age and mature with the group long enough to wistfully reminisce about the band’s meaning in my life.

But why am I bringing up the Gorillaz? What do the Gorillaz have to do with confidence, other than my best friend’s confidence in them being a real band, rather than a Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett fabrication? And yes, telling him the truth broke his heart.

Damon Albarn releases new Gorillaz albums about once every four to six years. And my profound self-assessments usually occur in that same interval, where I ask myself, “What happened to the lively, confident Sean you were just a few years ago? I thought you left that stoic, anxious self behind years ago!” The truth is this: The old Sean is still me, and the future Sean will be the same way.

As much as I struggle with my anxiety, I also struggle daily with a lack of confidence in my artistic, professional, and interpersonal abilities. Being a typical byproduct of anxiety disorder, a lack of confidence — or overall low self-esteem — is hard to avoid. But I also tend to misconstrue the struggle with low confidence as a single objective needing to be overcome. I treat it like a mighty dragon with a half-inch weak point, or like a demon king that can only be slain with silver arrows found in a mountaintop I can barely climb. However, this isn’t the case. The search for self-confidence is a long and sometimes arduous journey, complete with victories, sacrifices and losses. And even when that quest is over, the confidence you achieve is only relative, meaning there will always be a higher state of confidence to reach, with more self-esteem dragons to conquer.

Every journey comes with puzzles, and each puzzle requires a solution to solve. My most successful tactic for conquering bouts of low confidence is simply fighting through it. So, fight through a perceived lack of qualification, whether it’s a job, a class, a relationship or an artistic endeavor. Fight through not knowing who you are, where you’ll be in four to six years, or how to best follow your bliss. And if you’re like me, fight through not knowing how to write a newspaper piece, even if you think the final sentence is lame.