Why my attempts at being confident make me feel like a knobhead

I’ve become convinced that my crippling lack of confidence is becoming a bit of a hindrance.  You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been told to be more confident (at least 9000 times a day). It’s something that has plagued me forever. Even as a kid, my school reports all said the same thing ‘needs more confidence’ as though they had been rubber stamped by every teacher, for every subject, for every year until I left. I’m now almost convinced that if I was more confident, I might kick-ass (but probably not).

Compared to how I used to be, I think I am pretty confident these days. At one point I was too scared to go out for a meal or drink in a bar, because the prospect of actually having to order food or drink from another person was completely terrifying. In the past few years there have been various little confidence hurdles I’ve (somehow) managed to get over, but others are a little trickier. What’s frustrating, is the way that people tell me to ‘just be more confident’ as if a) I’d never realised that before and b) there’s some kind of switch inside that just needs flicking on – releasing some kind of previously untapped super-confidence resource that’s just been lying dormant until now. I don’t think that switch exists, or if it does, it’s faulty and I keep flicking it on and off out of boredom. I don’t know how to be more confident and (hand on heart) I have tried.

The thing is, whenever I attempt to be more confident, I get stuck in an endless loop, because I hate cocky, over-confident knobheads. While I want to be confident, I don’t want to be a knobhead, and  it is a scientific fact that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance:

super fine line

My problem (as with everything) is I try too hard. Whenever I attempt to be confident, I accidentally launch myself over that fine line, and end up talking like a cocky-know-it-all. Afterwards, I tend to despise myself for being a knobhead and thus, remind myself why it’s much better to just keep quiet and not speak at all. But then, not speaking at all reverts me back to my coy little ways, which in turn makes me feel like I’m missing out… It’s a vicious cycle. No. Really – here’s a diagram to prove the theory:

vicious cycle

A perfect example of a vicious cycle – it’s super vicious. You just have to imagine it having really sharp teeth.

So, anyway, vicious cycle, endless loop whatever you want to call it – I can’t escape it. I’m pretty sure most other people manage to go through their daily lives without lurching from crippling shyness to cocky-knobheadedness, and if you are one of those people, then I feel I desperately need to know your secret. My question is: how do you become confident without becoming a knobhead?

PS. I’m not sure how you spell knobhead. ‘Knobhead’ and ‘nobhead’ are apparently both acceptable. I think.

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Comments: 14

  1. The Suniverse (@TheSuniverse) February 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm Reply

    Here’s the thing, and I am telling you this as the hand on heart truth [love that, by the way]:

    If you fear you are becoming and arrogant, cocky knobhead, YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO BE ONE.

    Because knobheads? HAVE NOT AN IOTA of the self-awareness that they could possibly be knobheads. They think they are fine.

    Act as cocky and arrogant as you’d like – you’re never going to cross that line.

    XOXOXOXO

    • alonewithcats February 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm Reply

      Suniverse speeks the truth.

      Also, non-(k)nobheads temper than (possibly faux) confidence with self-deprecation. Which you do oh so well.

      I’m confident you’re not a (k)nobhead. Or foot.

    • Jo and the Novelist February 20, 2012 at 11:11 am Reply

      But doesn’t that mean that other people will still think you’re a cocky knobhead if you act like one, even though you have the self-awareness to worry that you’re being a cocky-knobhead??

  2. Rik February 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Sounds familiar. I think we must be related.

    Also, I prefer ‘nobhead’ to ‘knobhead’.

    • Jo and the Novelist February 20, 2012 at 11:12 am Reply

      I could have gone either way. I kind of wish I’d gone for ‘nobhead’ now, but meh, too late.

  3. Simone February 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm Reply

    I’m either THE shit, or the biggest piece of shit. There’s no in between for me. I find solace knowing there are people who suck more than me and I let them suck. I speak my truth – sometimes with confidence, sometimes with a weak heart. I’m pretty sure you have never been and will never be a knobhead. It’s not possible.

    • Jo and the Novelist February 20, 2012 at 11:15 am Reply

      The in-between stage proves to be the most elusive, but I’m sure some people manage it… BUT HOW?!

  4. WilyGuy February 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm Reply

    Never having heard or used the term knobhead, I certainly hope I am not one of those that doesn’t realize they are…

    There is BEING confident and SPEAKING confidfently and though there is a correlation, I don’t always buy into that. Being an adult I can speak confidently about not wetting my bed at night though my own internal confidence may not be strong that I won’t wet the bed tonight.

    I understand completely that you can be overconfident. The trick is to be humble. Avoid using words like “always,” “never,” and “wrong” when talking to people. I prefer saying things like “I’m not as sure about that…” instead of “you are wrong.” because generally a true toolbag will want to argue about whether they’ve ever been wrong than the substantive dialog you’re having.

    I agree with the readers above that if you know you could be a knobhead, you’ve a better chance than most NOT to.

    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

    • Jo and the Novelist February 20, 2012 at 11:18 am Reply

      I think I might buy a t-shirt that says something like “I am not a knobhead, but worry that I am”, which will give me free licence to behave confidently, without being a knobhead.

      Although, wearing such a t-shirt, might turn me into a knobhead in a whole new way…

  5. Nick Bryan (@NickMB) February 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Yeah, another hearty “Me too!”. I spend a lot of time either being quiet or rambling opinions and/or stupid jokes and then thinking “Wow, I must sound like an arsehole”. Or at least a bit of an obvious try-hard. Not really sure what the cure is here.

    • Jo and the Novelist February 20, 2012 at 11:21 am Reply

      Yeah I’m the same. I make the stupid jokes in an attempt to not sound like a knobhead, but this seems to merely exacerbate the issue. But without the stupid jokes, my rambling opinions make me feel like a knob…

      You’re right, there’s no cure. We’re stuck.

      • Nick Bryan February 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm Reply

        Exactly. But when I try to be sincere without jokes, they just sit and watch while I dribble on for half an hour, then go “Um, yeah, good point”. No win. No win.

  6. eileenerb March 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm Reply

    I agree that if you worry that you’re a knobhead, you are not one. I love the t-shirt idea, but ultimately I would hope that you, and I, can get to a place where we stop worrying about how we are perceived and accept that we are perfectly and finely flawed just the way we are.

  7. Sam November 12, 2013 at 1:27 am Reply

    Hahah this quality. You have literally word for word explained my thought process. To be honest you shouldn’t feel like knob because you can see if your being a dick. Were as someone who thinks their the dogs bollocks will just be a knob and be content with it. I think confidence is being content with being normal. Not trying to be confident. Whenever I have felt truly confident I have just felt it not forced myself to act like it.

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