My heels clicked out of the bathroom stall toward the stink. Straightening my mini skirt, I called back to my friend Jenna: “No, he was totally interested. He told his friend that if he was single, he would have dated me.”
Why did this always happen to me? Another hot guy had seemed interested, only to leave me still single, without so much as an official date. Jenna probably thought she was better than me because she had a boyfriend and I was single. “Besides, I want to be single right now,” I hedged. “I don’t have time for a boy.”
“Tiff, why do you always talk about the guys who like you?” Jenna asked, coming around the corner toward the sink.
I froze. When did I ever talk about the guys who liked me? It seemed like no one liked me at all!
I stared into the mirror at the girl who was never good enough or pretty enough or kind enough or smart enough to keep a guy’s attention. I tossed my bleached-blonde curls for another wave of confidence. My motto was “Fake it until you make it,” but I still found myself wrapped up in insecurity, constantly comparing myself to everyone else and coming up short.
Jenna, on the other hand, seemed totally secure, at rest with herself, not threatened by anyone. And she was looking at a very different girl than the reflection I saw in the mirror. She saw me as someone who seemed beautiful and confident (in an arrogant sort of way), a girl who thought she was better than everyone else.
I had embraced a form of arrogance that disguised itself as confidence, but it was a constant battle to prove my worth to the world—a mask that easily cracked, letting all the insecurities slip through and reveal the truth.
Looking back, here are some signs I can now see that spelled out the difference between my arrogance and Jenna’s confidence:
FALSE CONFIDENCE (AKA ARROGANCE)
|HEART AT REST: Someone so secure that she has nothing to earn or prove; she can simply BE.||CONSTANT COMPETITION: Always comparing herself to others, trying to be the best. Other people are seen as a threat, especially if they are talented or beautiful.|
|OTHERS-FOCUSED: Trusts in the Lord to give worth and value. Loses sight of herself to help others feel comfortable and loved.||SELF-FOCUSED: Trusts only in herself to make her good enough. So consumed by insecurity that she is stuck inside herself and how she is feeling.|
|BUILDS OTHERS UP: Doesn’t feel threatened by other people and their strengths. Makes a habit of encouraging and complimenting others, drawing them out in conversation.||TEARS OTHERS DOWN: Always talks about herself, sometimes bragging, trying to prove her worth. Putting other people down (either out loud or just in her head) makes her feel better about herself. Ironically, even though she speaks highly of herself, she often feels terrible on the inside.|
Real confidence reminds me of Psalm 20:7:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
In our day, I think that verse could read:
Some trust in brand-name clothes, some in popularity, some in intellect, some in big houses, some in lots of money, some in boyfriends…but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t feel a rush of confidence when she loves her outfit and the way she looks that day. It’s only natural. The key question is: Are we trusting in our outfits (or ____ — you fill in the blank) for worth, or are we trusting in the One who made us?
That day in the bathroom with Jenna was a life-defining moment for me. It was a long time before anything changed, but in that moment, I realized I was faking confidence and accidentally walking in arrogance. I wanted to learn the difference so I could change.
What helps you walk in confidence?
Note: While writing this article, I realized how many times I still walk in arrogance rather than confidence. If you’re in the same boat, be encouraged: Life is a journey toward becoming more Christ-like. Areas of weakness are another opportunity for God’s work in our hearts.