I have had several conversations with friends reeling from unkindnesses over the past few months where, after deserved tsk-ing and head-shaking, I’ve trotted out the following:
“Confidence is quiet; insecurities are loud.”
I find the words function like a turret, absconding me from a hurtful exchange and offering perspective. One of my siblings was severely bullied as a child and I have scant tolerance for those who “punch down,” but the language here tends to help me through an emotional doorjamb when my instinct is to spring into defense mode. It’s not so much condoning the behavior as letting the air out of the balloon. In my observation, bullies thrive off of attention; best to starve them of it. As Mr. Magpie says, usually drawing out the pronouncement of each letter with gravitas: “D.N.E.” That is: “Do. Not. Engage.” He’ll say this, in equal measures comedic and astute, when one of our children is having a time and we’re all spinning wheels together. (We are in a little rut where my daughter will sometimes needle us with: “I’m booooored” and “what can I doooo?” in spite of at least ten trillion activities at her disposal and my proffering of about a third of them in rapidfire succession. As he says: D.N.E.). He’ll also say this when we encounter someone spoiling for a fight. He’ll just make eyes at me and say: “Jennie. D. N. E.”
Underneath it all lies the sagacity that confidence is quiet and insecurities are garishly loud.
Sharing today as a possible foothold for anyone dealing with adjacent tangles —
And also, taking the words in a different direction, as they have become for me a personal mnemonic of sorts:
I am reminded of a time three years ago when someone (probably reflexively) asked, “What do you do?” at a cocktail party, and I proceeded to launch into a three minute spiel about what I was doing, what I used to do, what I might do in the future, stammering and spluttering along. In this case, word count became a clear litmus for my level of confidence about the state of my career. Ever since, a little red flag shoots up any time I find myself blathering on in response to what should be a straight-forward question. This happened relatively recently when someone asked whether we sit down at the dinner table with our children every night. “We do, but we don’t always eat together. Sometimes I make two meals. And it’s because –”
An obvious invitation for me to spend some time unpacking my defensiveness on that point, which I did, and am therefore grateful for the prompt.
+My husband makes light where there is little.
+My daughter’s surprising words of encouragement.
+Is people pleasing secretly a form of control? (The premise of this post still bothers me.)
+A great summer buy for under $100.
+Cinco de Mayo dress pick.
+Love these bathroom accessories.
+Still loving this bold caftan for summer.
+This $8 headband is SO cute for summer.
+These mugs make me think of a chilly morning at a cabin on a lake, wrapped up in a blanket, reading on a dock? How do they transport me so far?!
+The most adorable FOJ outfit for a baby boy.
+Simple, unfussy diaper bag. Structure is your friend!
+This delicate diamond necklace is so sweet. I wear a delicate diamond station necklace most days — such a beautiful, classic piece to wear yearround.
+H&M nailing the puffy sandal trend.
+This striped dress is ordering an aperol spritz as we speak.
+The happiest striped sweater!
+These pink sandals spark joy.
+This little dress for your baby girl!
+Another Evi Grintela slam dunk.