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Confidence

August 2, 2018

Here is a #selfie I took while I was naked in my#wheelchair in Rome last summer while my friend took a mid day nap in the bed just outside the frame. The window dressing was so dramatic and I wasn’t tired. And those are all the reasons. Now, a story about #confidence:

 

The other day an astonished older woman widened her eyes at me and asked, 'You're here alone? Qué fuerte!”

 

I was in the grocery store.

 

I get that all the time.

 

I could translate it for you from every language on the planet, the sentiment is that consistent - and I’ve been nearly everywhere on the planet. Alone. And yes, it’s exhausting and demeaning and a constant reminder of how little people think I’m capable of - but there’s an upside.

 

When I was 19, I went to Kenya. I was only supposed to stay 4 months. But I made friends, I settled in, and I didn’t come back for quite a while. I lived in Thika, Nakuru, Mtwapa and wandered around to many places in between.

 

“You’re here alone?” “You’re going *alone*?” People would ask with wide-eyed astonishment. And it would feel exactly the same as it does when people think I am reckless and brave for buying toilet paper without an assistant.

 

Instead of learning to be afraid of the world, it taught me to be skeptical of other people’s risk assessment. If I was already, as much of society assumes, living the worst disaster most people could imagine - what was left to be afraid of?

 

The more often I did things other people were intimidated by, whether for themselves or on my behalf, It made me more certain of my own instincts, which made my instincts more certain. More clear. In all the ‘dangerous’ situations I’ve been in, I have rarely felt a sense of danger. Or fear. Or, even, like I was alone.

 

I was once preparing for a solo trip to Norway when a friend my age admitted that she also thought it was brave that I was traveling alone.

 

“I’d be scared to do that.” She said.

 

“Go to the safest country in the world to ride around on a train?” I asked. “What are you afraid of? Getting bored?”

 

“Yes. I think so. I would never take a trip alone like that.” She answered, expressing respect, not shock.

 

I’ve been getting asked a lot in my Inboxes lately about my confidence. How to get it, how to keep it up in situations where one feels inadequate next to other people doing ‘better’, ’stronger’ versions of the thing, how to do big scary stuff while disabled. I know, without question, from the inside of my own experience, that most of what people fear about my life doesn’t apply. So, I can’t help but constantly wonder, is that also true of most of what I think deserves fear from me? What about the things I have given the right to make me feel insecure?

 

Confidence is between you and yourself. Not you and the thing you feel insecure about. Fear is, likewise, between you and yourself. Envy can show you what you want, but it can trick you into not doing what you want simply because someone else is doing it differently than you would.

 

Know your own experience. Know it. Feel it. Be inside it. Get as familiar with yourself as you can so that *you* don’t fear your own self. Let other people quiver with quaint astonishment while you go after the things you desire.​ 

 

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