Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Before last week, I hadn’t seen my friend Liz in at least five months. It was summertime, and after weeks of persistent emails and calling, I’d finally convinced her to meet me for tea. I missed seeing my friend and wanted more time with her, but I knew I was lucky to see her at all back then. In the aftermath of a nasty divorce, she’d tightened her circle of friends and all but shut down her social calendar. The heaviness in her voice and her listless demeanor were explanation enough.
Mostly, we sat in silence at the café, and when I inquired about her plans in this new stage of her life, Liz told me in a whisper that she’d only ever been with James, her husband, and that she had no idea where to begin rebuilding her life. “I never thought I’d be that woman,” she said, “alone, sad and no plans.” She said James had made all of their plans in the past. It would take Liz a few more months before she allowed herself to see friends again and reclaim her happiness, and once she did, the changes were unmistakable. We saw each other at a concert on Saturday, and she was radiant.
I noticed her unmistakably copper curls bobbing near the front of the stage and I got her attention. She was dancing—from the inside out—and she waved me over.
What I could gather from our conversation in the noisy club was that Liz had been in survival mode since the divorce—focusing mostly on landing one foot in front of the other—and she’d learned to make a point of letting go of any reluctance to forge a new life on her own. “Screw it!” she mouthed over the noise. “I’m single now … and I am moving on!” She wiggled her hips playfully, determined to dance at any chance she got.
As we mouthed to each other over the music. I couldn’t help but notice men admiring my friend. And being caught in her current of confidence felt like a complete 180° from where she’d been just months before. It wasn’t that she’d become a different person since I last saw her, or that she was attempting to impress anyone in particular. She told me later that she found the concert listing online and made a last-minute decision to check it out on her own. It was by chance that we ran into each other, and the fact that she was there at all was unlike the Liz of the past who wouldn’t think of leaving home without an agenda and a small group of friends in tow. She wasn’t overly made up yet she was electric in her jeans and faded tee. My friend had changed.
Seeing Liz in the wake of divorce and, later, at the concert, couldn’t have been any more of a contrast. The former was devastated at the prospect of life without a man or a ‘rescuer,’ as she put it, while the latter, this current Liz, was a man magnet, fully present in herself and happily oblivious to the heads she was turning.
“It was always drummed into me that I needed a man to be complete,” she said. “For a long time, even when I was married and believed I was happy, I still had that creeping fear that he’d leave. Even with him, or any man, really, there was always some part of me that was afraid to be alone.” That was the gist of our conversation in the summer, and judging by the glow around her just last week, she’d all but conquered that fear.
Whatever Liz had been doing was working. She was relaxed in her body in a way I can’t recall her being in all the years I’d known her. It was attractive and infectious; she was on to something. The emergent woman in front of me was self-confident; and it was sexy all over—to me and to most of the men in the room. It’s what made all the difference.
Here are s few reasons why self-confidence is so sexy.
Self-confidence is attractive. There have been countless studies done on what attracts us to each other, and while we might not always agree on what that is, one thing’s certain: we go where we feel pulled. And people with magnetic energy do the pulling. We’re not talking about charm here, necessarily. Self-confidence doesn’t need to schmooze or manipulate, because it broadcasts a person’s full-on acceptance of who they are without trying. Self-confidence says, “I accept myself on every level” and invites us all to do the same.
Self-confidence is complete. Without needing to explain itself or ask for permission to take up space in a room, self-confidence means you’re good enough as you are. My friend Liz—and, let’s face it, lots of us—believed she wasn’t complete unless she had someone by her side to validate, support and ‘save’ her. It’s what led her to face her life from a limited perspective. Given that mindset, no matter what she did, she believed she’d always be lacking. Fortunately, she gained the confidence that enabled her to unlearn the old story. She realized she was enough, and that she could indeed love, validate and rescue herself.
Self-confidence is powerful. The ability to direct the course of our lives isn’t always in our hands, no matter how in-charge we believe ourselves to be. Catastrophe, surprise, drama, the weather and other people’s agendas can influence the paths we ultimately take. Having the wherewithal to harness our own inner resourcefulness is a large aspect of self-confidence because it’s what informs our response to life as it happens, as well as our engagement within it. It reassures us that we’re safe, resilient and ready for the world.
Self-confidence is accepting. Even as our relationships may cause us to question our judgment at times, self-confidence reminds us that whatever mistakes we make, no experience or time spent is ever lost. Self-confident people accept themselves for who they are—flaws and all. Self-confidence gives us room enough to rise from the ashes and take those lessons with us into flight. When we accept ourselves as my friend Liz ultimately did, it opens our ability to have compassion for our own struggles and the struggles of others. It softens our edges, ignites our ability to forgive and unleashes our capacity to love deeply.
“A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.” The actress Vivica Fox said it and she’s right. When we have confidence in who we are, we rescue ourselves and drop the need to be saved by anybody else. Self-confidence is love in action, and it takes on a life of its own when we embrace it. All it asks is room enough to dance.
– – – – – – –
You might also like:
How Will I Know: The Soundtrack
Cheap Drama, True Love and You