If you read my last post you will know that life has not been easy here in Panama. Well, in a lot of ways it HAS been easy compared to my old life—technically speaking—but that doesn’t mean it is without its troubles. And what is more troublesome than impressive peers? Let me give an illustration
CONVERSATION BACK HOME:
CONVERSATION AT KALU YALA :
Aside from the minor exaggeration, I want to be clear that I am not slighting the south; I have met plenty of amazing people in Texas, and Kalu Yala itself is comprised of half ‘southerners.’ I am speaking in terms of concentration. Kalu Yala, by nature, attracts a generally intellectual, liberal, independent, well-traveled and adventurous crowd—which is awesome….and intimidating. I never realized how much my identity is wrapped up in cool things I have done, places I have travelled, books I have read, history that I know and the general intellectual persona that I try so hard to cultivate, until I met a bunch of people that outdo me at it. They have read all the right books, listened to all the right TED talks and This American Life episodes, and are politically and socially informed. Most are well-travelled, some are fluent in Spanish, others are starting their own business or pursuing a Masters degree, and they all want to change the world. I often find my confidence waning around such impressive peers, which makes me wonder if it is confidence at all if it is so dependent on the people around me, which then begs the question: what is confidence?
To try and answer this, which I am quite literally figuring out as I write, I must first digress to the Dark Knight Trilogy (where all life’s lessons can be traced back to). I love the quote in Batman Begins when Rachel tells Bruce Wayne, “It’s not who you are on the inside, but what you do that defines you.” Rachel is telling Bruce that he can’t claim to care about justice, about the people of Gotham, if all he does is run around playing eccentric billionaire, no more than I can claim to care about health and then eat at McDonalds every day. If there is no outward expression of an asserted inner reality, then that ‘inner reality’ is no reality at all. My life, what I ‘do’, is the evidence that defines who I really am, and defining who I am, that is, expressing my inner values outwardly, is the foundation upon which real self-confidence is built.
Fortunately, Bruce is batman and gets to drop this bomb on Rachael while jumping off a building into the night in the most awesomely dramatic exit scene ever. I’ll have to leave you with something a bit more mundane. I recently began taking Spanish classes and have gained so much confidence, not only because I am getting better at Spanish, but because I am putting my time, energy and money into something that I value and have wanted to learn for a long time. I am doing something that reflects my values and am building real self-confidence because I am defining myself, validating who I am by taking my inner reality and transforming it into an external reality. And I know it is real because neither the validation nor disapproval of others has any significance. Unfortunately, it is rare that I do something that doesn’t need at least some external validation because it is rare that my values are pure, or that I even know what my values are.
I’ll continue that thought in a few days with a new post that is almost finished. I just wanted to split it up a bit.