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What is Confidence?

I’m scared and I don’t know what I’m doing

Vibe Song:

During a check in with a scene partner I had played with at Titillating Tea Party, they had made a comment about something I did coming across as “confident and assertive.” Which when I think about my perspective of that moment, I felt anything but confident or assertive. I had a swirl of thoughts and I was in a near constant state of cringe at myself. What was I doing? Why did I say that, that way? Everyone nearby heard what I said and probably rolled their eyes. I hope my scene partner didn’t think that was too awkward.

So what does it mean to be confident about something? Throughout my life I’ve conflated confidence with blind arrogance because that’s how it felt to me from the outside. Obviously there are contexts in which I do have a sense of confidence and in those contexts I have a level of competence. The thing that feels different is that in those contexts is that my competence is measurable and objective. I write the software, the software runs. I either have the knowledge or I don’t have the knowledge. Very black and white, at least more clearly defined.

However, in social settings like kink, I find it harder to measure my competence. One might say you can measure based on the feedback of your scene partner. And given the feedback I got, it seems like I got high marks! But why doesn’t it feel like I got high marks? It seems to me like I have a level of distrust of others’ feedback. It’s the classic, “oh you’re just saying that to make me feel good” mentality. I can’t trust your honesty because I’m obviously bad at what I’m doing.

And some might rightly point out that what I’m experiencing is a form of drop and/or trauma response. Obviously stuff that I need to work through. Awesome, I’m glad we agree, but just one question… what is the work? What does it look like to work on this kind of response? You may learn to trust one person’s honesty, but new people? It feels like I’m starting over every time.

It seems to me like the work is just trusting what others say to be true and self soothe your way out of the bad feelings. I mean that’s what we do with imposter syndrome right? And we know that those feelings never go away so it is a constant journey. This is easy to do when the thing you’re doing doesn’t involve other people. Like a colleague might review my code and think its shit but at least they aren’t my keyboard. What happens when this “just trusting the honesty of others” leads to an unintended consent violation?

This is where my fear comes in, that my “faking it, til I make it,” leads to complacency which leads to me causing harm because I stopped worrying. There is this core belief that my constant worrying about doing the right thing, leads me to doing the right thing. If I stop worrying about it then I make bad decisions and cause harm. And this is reinforced when I talk with someone and they say, “It’s great that you’re thinking about this because not many people do and they cause harm.” Where is the balance?

If the balance is competency, then how do you get competent? How do you work on your skills such that you are aware enough to not cause harm but safe enough to soothe the bad feelings during the play. The answer feels like “practice, practice, practice.” And again, person in my head that has a well crafted answer to my every concern, you might a really great point. It seems like practice is needed. So find safe people to practice with, become competent through practice, become confident through competency.

I realize that there is a lot of nuance to this conversation and that I’m just a baby kinkster that will learn in due time. Which, by the way, super valid, but its rude that time withholds such knowledge. And to circle back to the feedback I received, I wish I was able to see myself from the 3rd perspective. To see that assertiveness. I feel every micro-expression that are my body makes which are tiny bat-signals screaming for help. Maybe if I saw myself from other people’s perspective it would be easier to calm my nerves. It may make it easier to be confident.


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