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Archive for September 2nd, 2010

Confidence (Ltd.)

Posted by Dirck on 2 September, 2010

My walk today took me past a shoal of teenagers, freshly returned to school, who trundled along heads bent in obeisance to modern god Connectedness.  Similarity of posture aside, there was such a uniformity of dress that I thought they might have joined the army, but for knowing what the modern Canadian Army looks like.  This is the hook upon which my contemplation hangs today, for I wondered what was driving this behaviour.

Dim memories of that largely unpleasant phase of life provide the answer.  While much of youth culture today celebrates the unique and doing what one will, the actual teenager is keenly aware that standing out means making a target of one’s self.  The motto of high school, rather than diverse trite sayings or things in Latin the kids won’t get anyway (Ex ignoranita ad sapientem, e luce ad tenebras is one of my favourites), should be the Japanese saying– “The Nail Which Stands Up is the First Pounded Down.”  Ah, good old childhood’s end.

My wife, who sells jewellry of her own making now and again, has frequent opportunity to speak with young people at her sales.  She has found that the most satisfactory sort, the pleasantest, brightest and most engaging, tend to fall into two categories.  In naming these categories, I will likely not use the appropriate modern versions, as I’m extremely out of touch with the teen of today; they are Punks and Goths, or whatever the current variant title that sort of person goes by today is.  Why?  Well, they’re still adopting a group look, but it is at least not a majority group look.  These are nails which have chosen to run the risk of a pounding down.  They know themselves sufficiently to keep that self together against community disapprobation.

They have confidence.  The same can be said of anyone who has chosen a lifestyle out of phase with the majority, where that choice isn’t simply about getting attention (which of course is a manifestation of low confidence).  Fountain pen users, in a small way– remember that not only do we use a writing instrument some people don’t recognize, but we have to be willing to wear with a smile a shirt with a great ink-stain depending from the pocket.  One can also look at  fedora wearers, decreasingly so as hats return to fashion, although I maintain that there is a great difference between just plopping a hat atop whatever you’re wearing (majority) and arranging an outfit so the hat is actually a complimentary finish (my own self somewhat,  one or two of the other bloggers I keep up with moreso, and anarcho-dandists in general).  “I am I,” we say through our actions, “and you don’t get to tell me what I am.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret– confidence is worth having.  It allows you to face the grubbiness of modern existence with decent posture.  It is an attribute of the laudible.  It makes people who are physically indifferent or possibly actually ugly into objects of attraction.  However, like firearms and cars, its the sort of thing that one must be careful about using.  Over-confidence is even more dangerous than the lack.  Too little confidence reduces one eventually to a figurative welcome mat, but too much can lead to a quite literal transformation to bear poop.  Don’t confuse confidence with recklessness or actual ability.  Too often, the very last lesson someone learns is humility.  Be confident, but know your limitations.  It’s an interesting balancing act.

Today’s pen, holding its head high: Conklin Glider
Today’s ink, quite prepared to teach a lesson in humble acceptance of misfortune:  Mont Blanc Racing Green

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