Musings + Essays

Confidence Is Quiet.

By: Jen Shoop

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.)

+Attention is a form of love.

+These are the days that must happen to you.

Shopping Break.

+A great summer buy for under $100.

+Cinco de Mayo dress pick.

+Love these bathroom accessories.

+Totally in love with this skirt and the matching top.

+Cute gingham shorts for under your tennis skirt?

+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.

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17 thoughts on “Confidence Is Quiet.

  1. I ran across the “insecurities are loud” framing recently and it helped with some situations for both a friend and I. I don’t know whether it’s the culture right now, or pandemic response but it feels like there is a lot more unkindness going around.

    1. Yes, exactly — the language helps with “reframing”! I do think a lot of us have been short on patience/grace during this pandemic…xxx

    1. Agree – so many lovely and thoughtful comments here. And, yes, thanks to Mr. Magpie for the “DNE” foothold!


  2. D.N.E. reminds me of something my childhood best friend’s father often told us: “Don’t pick it up.”
    Whenever we were dealing with a bully, a pot-stirrer, or the like, he’d remind us not to give them the time of day or the opportunity to be negative. His advice has served us very well and probably saved me from a lot of frustration and impatience!

  3. Love all the tendrils of your foothold re: bullies, children, self-doubt, and and and. “DNE” is perfect!

    1. Yes! So much here. I sat down to write and there was just so much to say and think. I’m moved by Sarah Katherine’s previous comment about the concept of DNE w/r/t spiraling thoughts. Hadn’t thought about it in that way but it resonates.


  4. Such a timely post as my middle school daughter has been dealing with a particularly persistent friend/bully (the worst kind in my opinion as they are close enough to cause real harm). I have been reminding my daughter it’s always attention these unkind people are seeking and to starve them of it, starves them of their power and they can’t survive. To give them unwarranted consideration is to give your own power away. Loved your perspective on this topic. I’m going to use DNE from now on!

    1. Oh Amy – I’m sorry to hear. I really cannot abide the bullying — it can be SO hard to just sit on your hands and stay quiet when you want to riot against the perpetrator!! Anyway, glad this post offered a catch-phrase to lean on when you’re working through this with your daughter. I agree with your point, too, that “to give them unwarranted consideration is to give your own power away.” So hard not to, but it’s so true. It reminds me of another quote: “You give life to what you give energy to.”


  5. I immediately thought I need to remind myself to D.N.E. with my own intrusive thoughts. This is something I need to tell myself! Like when I’m insecure that a coworker doesn’t like me or that I’m not a good enough wife – Do. Not. Engage. Because when I do engage those thoughts it never ends well, but takes me down a road of gossip, hurtful speech, self-defensiveness, and so on.

    1. !! Sarah Katherine! Thanks for writing in on this front because I’d not yet applied the concept to my own occasionally spiraling thoughts. I wish I’d had this on hand last night when I was tormenting myself in the middle of the night over a parenting decision! Wah! Thanks for this suggestion.


  6. Oh, the reminder to DNE is a helpful one 🙂 I recently listened to Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner (an old podcast episode) speak on apologizing and so much of their advice aligns with this, e.g. shorter is always better, do not justify your position or explain, offer it as a gift and expect nothing in return, etc. I see a parallel here. They talked about how you MUST be self confident to offer a genuine apology, and so many people who never apologize don’t do it because they are confident — they do it because they’re arrogant which is really just a form of insecurity. They are unable to apologize because they are unable to be self-assured enough to understand that they are allowed to make mistakes AND still be a good person who stands in self-worth. It’s fascinating for me to think of arrogance as a manifestation of insecurities, but then again of course it is. Confidence IS quiet. It had nothing to prove.

    1. My goodness Joyce, that episode of Brene’s podcast changed my life – reoriented me on an apology that has completely repaired a relationship that was dear to me but in very a very dire state after our respective pandemic handling. I’m not sure I would have seen the parallel to today’s topic without your pointing it out, so thank you!

    2. I just downloaded this podcast to listen to – thank you, Joyce! I love all the insights here. I totally agree with so much of what you said here, especially the notion that true apologies stem from “being self-assured enough to understand we are allowed to make mistakes and still be a good person who stands in self-worth.” Wow! Thanks for this.

    3. Elizabeth, your note is so encouraging! I have so far only been able to use the apologizing advice from that podcast on a rather small scale. (Though it really shifted the way I think about things.) I am inspired by you!

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