Last week I helped Maryann, a friend of a friend, draft a eulogy for her brother Ben, who had died after a lifetime battle with Muscular Dystrophy.
Since I didn’t know Ben, I asked Maryann to tell me his story. One of the most moving parts of his story is that because of Ben, Maryann decided to go into the health field. She wanted to be for others what she hoped others would be for Ben.
Maryann, though, wasn’t always so noble. In high school, she was embarrassed by how Ben looked and talked. On the night of prom she asked her mother to keep him out of sight, as she was worried what her date would think.
Even years after prom she worried – “what will they think?”
After Ben died, Maryann posted to Facebook a photo of her and Ben. With his feeding tube and ventilator there’s no mistaking him for Hugh Jackman. But it’s a sweet photo of the two of them looking happy.
Soon after the photo went up, Maryann’s sister Debbie called – upset. She demanded that she take down the photo. She said Ben looked like he had a double chin and the photo wasn’t flattering because of that. She said to Maryann, “what will people say?”
Now, let’s take a moment to recap –here’s a photo of a man dying from a horrific disease. And here’s his sister normalizing his life as best she can with a fun pic of the two of them – smiling. And what does Debbie see? A double chin – that sends her into a tizzy over what “they” will say! I love it! Life doesn’t get more whack-a-do than this!
Maryann told me that she stopped caring about what people said a long time ago. The photo is staying. She decided not to cave to Deirdre; not to yell at her; not to ignore her. She decided that she’d explain why she’s keeping the photo on her page.
Oftentimes people say that confidence is not caring about what others think. And, yes, that’s a part of confidence. And I think there’s even more to it…
Confidence is believing that no matter what “they” say, I can engage “them” and not be intimidated by any intended or unintended judgment. Confidence means not needing to be passive or passive-aggressive in my response to what “they” think.
Confidence is not so much about not caring as it is about caring so much that you find a way to handle a person or situation, no matter how trying.
What about you? What does confidence look like, feel like, sound like for you?
Let me know and I’ll share your thoughts in future issues.
Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at: firstname.lastname@example.org