I Will Never Apologize For My… … I will never apologize for my self-confidence. Some mistake it for arrogance … I don’t mind it, though, because it’s only a matter of perspective. Confidence has never been my thing. I was not born with it, but I somehow managed to acquire it throughout my whole life. My mother had a say in it, imagine that! I remember that, as a child, I completely lacked confidence, which made my mother somehow question my whole nature and mostly what I would do in life. She did everything she could to cure me from that condition, because she felt as if it really were a terrible disease. I was cured all right, but not without a discomforting soreness which mellowed eventually. One moment from my childhood always stands out. I was waiting in line [picture the communist era in an Eastern-European country before the ‘90s] to buy something at the market, and my mother wanted me cut in line and manage to get in front of the counter and ask the sweet salesperson for whatever we were buying. I would always fear that moment, because it was not the first and it would surely not be the last, when my mom told me to walk among all those tall adults, never to mind any of them and to get to that god-forsaken counter, and ask for the thing. I cannot seem to recollect what I said to that woman, but to this day, I still feel my mom’s fingers in between my shoulders, pushing me through the crowd, and my feet resisting that push. I was completely frozen. I tried to get by and mumble some words of resistance, but my mother would not budge. She would never budge. So, there I was, looking at all those somewhat angry faces, because the people around had heard my mother telling me what to do as I tried to get behind her, looking scared and slightly ashamed by the situation. But no, I had to do it. And I did it, eventually. I straightened up my back, mentally detached from all around and walked through to the counter, talked to the woman, bought whatever and came back. Walking that aisle, I could hear my heart pumping in my ears and deafening me, detaching my poor soul from all. I kept my eyes on that counter and on that woman, dressed in a white nurse-like outfit with strange boat-like cap on her big and unappealing messy head. Dear, God. The look my mom had on her face when I got back. “There’s hope!” she probably might have thought to herself. Later on in my childhood, I wanted to take piano lessons. My parents would never refuse to sign me up for whatever interests I had, and little did I know that I would be stuck for no less than ten years with the piano lessons and term recitals. Did I mention that I had absolutely no talent or musical ear? And saying that, I always look at my hands, feeling sorry for what they had to endure? Short fingers. The first and absolute incongruence for a piano player. They would never work. And they never did. That never mattered anyway, to my mom, mostly. Could my teacher tell her otherwise? No! Of course not. Do you thing she would have budged. Hell, no! Not my mom. No, Ma’am! … Anyways… For ten long years, I had to go twice a week during school semesters and work hard to play Czerny and Bach digitation exercises, arpeggios and solfeggio, but that was not the hardest thing. The hardest was to get to the stage, at the end of each semester, and perform a piece in front of parents and other teachers. Did I like it? No, of course not. Could I escape that? No, of course not. My hands were always sweaty and all I could hear was my poor heart beating through my body and deafening my ears. My piano teacher was a sweet woman who probably understood me, since I had no talent or a calling for the instrument she adored, but she could not tell my mom that. Now, could she? … and she would always welcome me with her endearing smile and the acceptance that you see in resolute souls, having enough patience with my lack of musical calling or will for that matter; but most of all I remember how she would always advise me to keep playing my piece, get over any mistakes that I might do while performing, and continue playing and act confident. At that time, I could not understand her way of teaching me how things worked in life, but now I do. Focus on the goal and act confident, as if you owned the place. Now, even when I have to speak to a large crowd, my hands still get sweaty and I can hear my heart pumping into my ears, but I go on, even if my brain remembers the stress I had as a child when confronted with similar situations, even if I know I might stutter or forget the prepared speech, I keep on focusing ahead … just like a sprinter heading for the end line. Self-confidence took me a lifetime to prepare. Do I feel as confident as I lead to believe, probably I do, but in spite of my life struggle with this condition, I somehow proved to be able to overcome my childhood shyness! I only wish my mother were alive to see me now, able to stand on my own two feet and walk to any god-forsaken counter, through a large and faceless crowd, and ask the lady for whatever … Do I try to teach confidence to my kids, yes, of course I try. Do I do it like my mother? … Of course I do! It did not kill me so, it will surely not kill them. But no piano lessons, though!
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