Confidence is a strange thing...

Not too long ago I briefly addressed my chess career. Without fear of contradiction or making untrue claims, I am not afraid to say I was very, very good. But there was an issue there.

Even if I had both arms amputated, I would still have enough fingers left to show you how many games I lost in intra-school and regional competition in the 4 years I competed. (For those with poor math skills, I will say it different: I NEVER lost a club game or a regional competition game). 

That included games the "teacher" played for his pet player in an attempt to get her to regionals; I was simply better than him. 

Yet I was nervous when it was time to play Gary. Gary was known to be the second best player; nobody could beat him except Scott and Gary could not beat Scott. Yet after we played, I ended up with a lifetime record of 1-0 against Gary. 

You would think that would give me confidence...yet I was nervous when I faced Sam. Sam was Scott's younger brother and was in the same grade I was. He could not compete with Gary...but I was nervous about facing him.

2 of the 3 years I played for the Condon Cougars at the state tournament, I was 4th board. The one year I was 3rd was our strongest team; Scott, Gary, myself and Sam. We tied for 3rd in the state that year, the only chess trophy Condon ever got, to the best of my knowledge. I won every game at State that year...yet the next year, with Scott moved on to Junior High, I was moved back to fourth board despite being better for sure than 2 of the players and having a winning record against Gary...who proved not equal to the task of holding down first board.

Yet even by my third year, even at Regionals where I was undefeated for my career and with the "best" player gone from the scene, I was nervous before every game. What if I lost this one? Did I really have the talent to be competing with these people?

Looking back, those were ridiculous fears. I put a lot of time into studying the game and could usually tell within 4 - 5 moves not only how I would beat them, but what the final sequence of moves would be. 

SO why was I nervous?

The same question applies today. I am doing a job I have only been doing for a month or two. Every night when it comes time to load a truck, I wonder if this will be the one that shows I cannot actually do the job, that I am a fraud and will be exposed as the incompetent moron I truly am instead of the guy who gets the job done in a timely fashion day after day. 

Because even though my ACTIONS have shown I can do the job, somewhere in the back of my head is that same little guy who wondered if he could compete at chess wondering if I can actually do the job.

I wonder why confidence is so fragile? And I know it is not me. I have seen, though I do not remember where, a claim that the vast majority of males have a secret fear of being exposed as being unable to do their job.

I do not know if that is true or not but I do get the gist of it and wonder; why is past experience not enough validation of talent? Why the constant lack of confidence? 

I know there is not really an answer and not even sure I would want to hear it if there was. It is just one of those questions that knocks around in the back of my mind, alongside the more famous one answered by Bill Cosby:Why is there air?


pheromone girl said...

Even when I was the best in the state at something once, I always fearaed that thenext attempt would be the one that showed me as the fraud I am.

I like to think I was born without theconfidence gene. We should start a club!

pheromone girl said...

PS: I left you a present on my blog this morning!!

Riot Kitty said...

Good question about confidence being fragile. Perhaps because pride goeth before a fall?

Whitemist said...

It has been a long time since I played chess. I also was good, but it was only a game, not my life. Once i was ranked (I do not remember what it was). Playing was not like or death, it was, well fun. Confidence? I learned that there was a fine line between that and arrogance. It took time to learn who I was and what was important, that was confidence, what I knew was arrogance.
Keep searching it is a gallant quest.

Fullur said...

Heh, I am known as being quite intelligent among the younger crowd out here. They call me the "walking dictionary" and pretty well figure that I can answer any question with reasonable accuracy. The funny thing is, I am not any more intelligent than half of them. I am not any more knowledgable about definitions or facts than most. I simply have confidence in what I do know, and what I can infer about what I don't know, and I speak with that confidence.

Not quite on your topic, but it made me think about it.