The Confidence Paradox

The school I work for has a four man tech team. There are two gentleman who are responsible for training staff on how to use our technology. Myself and another person are responsible for ensuring our technology works. Unfortunately, I recently lost my partner. Unbeknownst to me, the company knew it was coming and had someone ready to fill our newly vacated position.

That someone was a young man who literally graduated high school the day before his first day.

Naturally, myself and the rest of the team had some reservations about this. Having someone the same age as our students could put this young man in some compromising situations. How would this young man deal with potentially stressful situations? How would he react under pressure? Or deadlines?

There were two reasons my supervisor felt comfortable putting this young man into this position. The first was that this young man had been a student tech for all four of his high school years and came highly recommended from the tech staff there. The second, quite simply, was me.

“The only reason I feel confident in doing this,” my supervisor said as he leveled his index finger directly at me, “is because of him.”

Well, great. No pressure, right?

I’m a pretty confident person. I know I have above average intelligence. I know that I have above average work ethic. I know that if there’s something I don’t know how to do I am capable of learning how. I consider myself reliable, though I do occasionally have a slippery mind.

Having said all that, for some reason hearing those thoughts articulated out loud, whether by myself or others, makes me extremely uncomfortable. I hate job-hunting because I hate tooting my own horn. Yes, I’m a good employee, but saying so aloud bothers me. I sometimes consider creating an online dating profile, but always discard the idea because I don’t feel comfortable putting things I feel are positive qualities about myself out there in an attempt to entice a woman to date me. It makes me feel…soiled.

On this fresh high school graduate’s first day of work, we made the rounds to all of our buildings so I could introduce him to our administrators. Several of them welcomed him to the corporation with smiles and/or jokes. Several of them also told him I was a great leader and a wonderful person to learn from, thoughts that made me internally squirm. I love that these folks think so highly of me, but still shrink a little when I hear them say so. There’s even one person there who’s actually said to me, “You’re our superstar and we don’t want to do anything to make you unhappy.” Now that made me cringe. I don’t want people afraid of me or walking on egg shells around me. I want people to feel comfortable in my presence. I’m just a regular guy living life the best I can.

I have no idea what makes me uncomfortable about others who think highly of me. Is it the fear of failing to meet the high expectations that go along with it? Is it my self-depreciating nature? Are the demons dancing with the skeletons in my closet casting shadows on my inner light? Do I even have an inner light? I don’t know, and doubt I ever will.

The most ironic thing about all of this is that I am confident, yet I’m uncomfortable that others have confidence in me. But as the great William Shatner once said…


Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes

Do compliments make you uncomfortable?
About Twindaddy (338 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

33 Comments on The Confidence Paradox

  1. Compliments make me terribly uncomfortable. There is the feeling that I need to reciprocate somehow and the fear that someone will find out the truth about me, that I’m really not all that after all. Oh, the PRESSURE!!!


    • I’m feel almost the same way. I don’t necessarily feel the need to reciprocate, but I do struggle not to disagree with whatever compliment I’ve received. So I either sit there in silence or meekly utter, “Thank you.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Finding Ninee // June 17, 2017 at 7:17 pm // Reply

    It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s like, we know we’re good at something, but if somebody else says that we’re good at it, it’s awkward. I always feel like they’re faking what they say or something. So I have confidence in myself but not in others to see the things I’m good at? It’s not that, exactly, it’s that they say it. I have a family member who is always very complimentary of everybody with “oh honey don’t you look nice, you’re so smart, such a good xyz,” etc and then talks total shit about them. Maybe that’s it for me? I don’t know. Anyway! Thanks for this!


  3. I’m a much better giver of compliments than a receiver. Ugh … just let me work my magic in silence. Looks like I’m in good company!


  4. Nora Elise // June 18, 2017 at 8:14 am // Reply

    I used to be like that. In high school. I remember one time I embarrassed my then boyfriend because his girl best friend he’d known most his life was complimenting me on something and I felt so uncomfortable I blurted out, “You know I don’t need your compliments.” and I stormed off.

    Now I get a compliment and I feel like Jay-Z, I mentally brush my shoulders off. But I graciously say thank you. Gotta stay humble.


  5. It’s actually a pretty well-known psychological phenomenon: people who are high performers underestimate how good they’re are, and low performers think they’re great.
    And yes, I do know the feeling. I get a lot of compliments which I find completely unjustified, since to me, my job isn’t particularly difficult, so complimenting me on it is like complimenting an 18-year-old for not throwing food while eating or tying their own shoelaces.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are plenty of folks who will try to take you down.. enjoy the praise you get!


  7. You do have an inner light and it shines most wonderfully.

    But…being a tall poppy can be dangerous. I know why compliments bother me – it made me a target. Or else it was in preparation for a takedown. So no. I get some reasons.


  8. The good news is you’re not alone in this.

    The bad news is you either have to learn to get over the feeling and just be grateful for people thinking you’re good at something (bloody hard to do) or learn to live with feeling crappy about it for the rest of your life (possibly only slightly less bloody hard to do).

    I also think that it’s really hard to accept compliments because we’re also so used to the people who give out negative comments on our work/behaviour/appearance/etc and so there’s a big part of the inner self saying “they can’t mean it” because the negatives seem to carry way more weight than the positives. I remember reading somewhere that it takes about 20 positive comments to balance out the one negative comment. Which is really super sucky.


  9. Don’t worry. I have no plans to compliment you any time in the near future…..Asshole….


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