“Legend Status”... “Born to Beast”... “Front Page Talent”. These are all boastful T-shirt slogans I noticed recently while walking through a popular sporting goods store. It made me wonder why young men would want to wear this type of shirt as it seems so arrogant and prideful. As young men do we need to truly wear our feelings of superiority on our sleeves or chest? Do we need to tell others, literally, that we are better than them? Or, could wearing this type of clothing be a shield we use because inside we feel the exact opposite of what we want to convey to the world? As I thought about this more it hit me--insecurity is often manifested as pride, arrogance and haughtiness.
If I dig deep I can see the appeal of holding up this kind of shield. Maybe not by wearing those type of t-shirts, but how is it any different when I want to wear a tailored suit and tie, flashy Jordan’s or a nice watch? Is that my way of telling the world, “I am someone special!”, “I am someone you should pay attention to!” or “Look at Me!”? I understand this type of reasoning can become unsustainable, because to avoid this behavior, we should all walk around barefoot wearing a potato sack as clothing. Of course this is not my point.
My point is this: we are trying to convey something about ourselves by how we look and what we wear. We want to portray an image to the world about who we are by the way we dress and carry ourselves. Like most things in life this can have a good and bad side.
Bad: If we are dressing or carrying ourselves in a way that tries to hide our true selves, because we are embarrassed or afraid that who we truly are is ugly, unimportant or worthless. This means we are dressing to make others like us even more, not truly how we want to look or who we really are.
Good: If how you dress and carry yourself is a reflection of who you truly are inside. This comes from a place of self confidence and awareness of who you are and your place in the world. This is the goal for which we all should strive. Not to flaunt who we are in a boastful way, but to go through life with a clear understanding that we are important and valuable in our Creator’s eyes, we our valuable members of society, and we have something to contribute to the world.
So what can you do if you are filled with self doubt? If you are using how you dress and act as a shield because you are afraid that you are not good enough? If you were blessed to have good parents they probably told you through your childhood that you were unique, special, and that you had great possibilities ahead. Because of this you most likely were healthfully confident in yourself and your place in the world, but somewhere along the way this confidence was lost. There could be many reasons for this, including being told by a loved one or mentor that you were a failure, trauma in your life or loss of a job. No matter the reason for your loss of confidence, how do you get it back?
If you believe in God, I would say the most important thing to remember is that He created you in His image. He values you, and if nobody else in this life values you it will be ok, because He does. Secondly, you have to take a hard look in the mirror and understand that to a large extent you control your destiny. You have to believe you are valuable, you have to build yourself up and learn to self-motivate, because sometimes there will be nobody else to build you up. Lastly, you must cut ties with those who are dragging you down. Even loved ones can sometimes fit into this category. If you are intent on living a productive life you cannot afford to be dragged down by naysayers and haters. Cutting ties from those who you are close to can be difficult but may be a necessary step in order to move forward.
The bottom line is this: what I want for myself, and you, is to put down whatever shield I am carrying and be confident and happy in who I am. We should always strive to grow more, but we can also be happy in our present state. It’s time to put down whatever shield you are carrying. It is heavy and not needed. Set it down so people can see who you truly are. If they don’t like it, they don’t matter anyway.
- J. Matthew King, Co-founder