The courage to be yourself

I love those people who are so unapologetically themselves. It seems like these days it has become a weird norm for people to want to stand out, but still kind of fit into a mould of what a popular person is. The courage to be yourself, your real self, is rare.

A story

I learnt a valuable lesson about being myself from a fellow karateka a few years ago.

I was still a novice and one day I was early for the karate class. My sensei hadn’t arrived yet to open the dojo. I joined one of my fellow yellow belts in front of the door. He always was and still is such a ninja – super talented. But I digress.

To give you some context, he is a skinny black guy.

As I approached him, I heard he was listening to music over his phone’s loudspeaker for everyone to hear. We talked a little and in the middle of the conversation, I realised what he was listening to. It was Celine Dion – and not anything modern that she had done lately, it was the ‘Titanic’ song.

I asked him about it, and he didn’t understand why I was so amused. He had this attitude of ‘Whatever, I like it’.

Later I felt bad for making fun of his taste in music because I realised he was just being himself.

Grown-ass black man listening to Celine Dion in public (on a loudspeaker)? Man, that takes balls!

Personal growth

As a teenager, I wasn’t confident. I was terribly afraid of talking in front of people and quite shy in general. I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin because I had so many insecurities.

As I got older and wiser (supposedly) I started becoming more confident. Also, as I started doing martial arts, I also became more confident because quite frankly, knowing how to kick ass will do that to you.

The biggest reason for this personal growth was that I was surrounded by people who were unapologetically themselves (during university and onwards) and that gave me the courage to be myself.

Is it confidence, though?

These days I’m not sure if I’m confident, or I just don’t care anymore. Or is that what confidence is?

I’m just going on with my days doing my thing, not caring what people think, or sometimes I go out of my way to be weird. Like, for example, the other day I met two friends at the mall and went down on one knee and asked them to be my bride’s maids. Both said yes, obviously.

I did that in a packed mall. People stopped and stared, and I thought it was the funniest thing – all those confused faces.

Also, when I was teaching, and I asked a question and no one answered, I would start singing. (It was always this song.) I don’t have a singing voice at all. But I don’t care, and it eventually got the students talking to me.


How do you define confidence? Let me know in the comments.



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