What is confidence, really?

Before I teach online, I get really nervous. Yesterday was the first class in a long while and it was no different.

And then I started teaching, and all of my shyness melted away. It was one of the best, if not the best, online class I’ve ever had. I covered everything I wanted to and gave a really good taste of my personality, my style of teaching, and advanced elements of pronunciation, which was what the student had specifically booked the class for. I left thinking, “Why was I so nervous in the first place?”

Well, I know why really. I get nervous before starting any kind of new class. Any disruption to my routine. Heck, I used to get nervous when people asked what my favourite film was. It comes from the fact that, when I started teaching, I was scared shitless, and I forget that I’ve progressed hugely since then.

The thing is, I only started teaching last year. It feels like I’ve cheated, skipped ahead. After only a year of teaching, I shouldn’t feel this confident, should I?

Or maybe it’s a sign that teaching is meant for me. I’m definitely coming into it with a lot more experience, both technical (linguistics degree) and practical (theatre background), than most language teachers do.

It’s not just in this one area. Confidence I’ve built in the last few years has allowed me to write freely, make new friends, carry out projects successfully. I wouldn’t have been able to do daily blogging even a year ago.

So what’s changed? It would be easy to say that it’s all to do with age, experience, better diet, to chalk it down to any one experience. It could be to do with the fact that I started meditating, but equally the turning point could’ve been going on sleep medication. A lot of these all snowball-ricocheted into each other, making it hard to point a finger at the One True Cause.

Maybe a large factor of it is monetary? Currently is the first time I’ve not only made enough money to have a degree of financial independence, but also made money doing something I actually genuinely enjoy.

What sucks, though, is that I can’t help but feel that if I met me from five or ten years ago, I would have no idea what to tell her. It almost feels like I chanced upon this confidence, that I haven’t earned it in some way. It’s survivor guilt, rather than imposter syndrome.

Apparently your brain doesn’t stop fully developing until you’re 25. Of course, things keep changing up until you die, but the idea that we reach maturity at 18 or even 21 is factually incorrect.

I’m 25 this year, going on 26, so it does feel fortuitous that it’s all come to a head right now. I’ve had some major setbacks this year, but nothing has dragged me down like it would have in the past. I’m moving towards a happier, brighter future. I’m medically transitioning, I’m moving up in my career, and I’m consistently producing artistic projects that are useful to people. Oh, and I’m back on my language nerdery, which I really, really should never have let fall by the wayside.

I think almost all of us have the potential to be confident. But society only allows a few of us to do this and often only in particular circumstances. It’s one of the things I wish I could help people more with, especially the students I teach. Is being a role model enough? I don’t know.

Many people find the idea of change terrifying. But I think it’s kind of exciting. All of us, no matter how wretched our circumstances or attitudes, have the potential to change. I have to believe that, because it happened to me.

We are all fast-moving stars, one cosmic event away from collapsing or exploding into brilliance.

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