No matter our walk in life, no matter our goals, dreams, and ambitions, a measure of confidence is required if we're to achieve any sort of lasting success and contentment in our lives. Confidence is self-developed, self-contained, and self-preserved. In a word, confidence is selfish (not all forms of selfishness are bad, I have learned over the years).
I believe confidence is the natural result of hard work, practice, and lots and lots of repetition (no matter what you do-even without training-the more you do it, the better you will get at it). Confidence is a faithful and quiet friend of few words, and-if you work really hard at what you're doing-maybe even a faithful and gentle spouse that never leaves your side. Confidence is not competitive. In fact, it has little or no regard for others one way or the other: it's there for you, and only you. Confidence isn't born of praise and adoration from others, nor is it harmed by nastiness and harsh criticism. I think we can view things like consistency, tenacity, stability, contentment as the children of confidence (may we have many!).
I've heard it said so many times that confidence is sexy, and I used to believe that. Though I still acknowledge there's something to that, I no longer see it as being "sexy." I see confidence as being sort of homely, and even a bit boring-it's not something boisterous, outgoing, and flamboyant. What I think people may describe as "sexy" is often the natural appeal we have toward people that seem to be able to handle situations: there is great comfort in being around confident people.
Just as much as confidence is self-contained (by the self, of the self, for the self), so do I believe swagger is external in its nature, that it is defined by your relation to others. A conversation with a good friend led me to consider that there might be various sub-categories of swagger, and I may address that at some point in another blog. For now, I see it as something that happens outside the self that has its legitimate time and place in society-especially if you are a performance artist.
On the surface, swagger is very much the opposite of confidence in many ways, as I see it. Swagger is bold, outgoing, energetic, and sometimes outspoken. These traits can serve you well if you need to be recognized, branded, or marketed. Used properly, swagger determines how the outside world views you, allowing people contrast you with others and help you to stick out among the various forms of competition.
Swagger is something else, though, which keeps it from being your friend: it is unstable. It may pick you up off the ground one moment, then kick you in the teeth an hour later. Nobody tells swagger what to do: it does what it wants, when and how it pleases. Though it can be a great help at times, it has no specific allegiance to you. It may invite you to the movies, but it doesn't care if you actually go.
Unlike confidence, swagger is constantly affected by the outside world: praise and adoration take it to new heights, while nastiness and criticism pop its glittery pink balloon. There is great danger in mistaking swagger for a friend: just ask the thousands of celebrities that have been/will be in rehab (or the ones who can't answer because they are dead).
I don't believe genuine confidence ever brought harm to anyone, and I maintain that the confidence brought about as the natural result of patience, hard work, and repetition will go a long way toward living a happy, meaningful, and productive life (no matter what you choose to do with it). If your station in life requires you to stand out among others, you're going to need a measure of swagger too at times-a healthy blend of the two would be your aim. If you haven't yet put in the hard work and repetition, I highly recommend avoiding swagger best as you can, since genuine confidence is the one that's going to clean your wounds and make you a bowl of warm soup after swagger has beaten you to a pulp again. That confidence isn't going to be there to heal you if you haven't put in the hard work and practice. Finally, never ever mistake swagger as your friend: even if you have tremendously huge genuine confidence, you should only associate with swagger when necessary. Send swagger an occasional "Thank you/Thinking of You" card, but don't invite it over for dinner.
Thank you for being there, we love you