Saturday, 9 April 2016

Confidence VS Arrogance


Just a smidge.

Last year, I wrote a short blog about why I think arrogance is an absolutely stupid trait (as well as a hideously ugly one).  If you've not read it, please do give it a look, because it's only short and it was written whilst I was determined to poke fun at something I loathe, so it's kind of amusing, too.  Honest.

The thing is, arrogance really is - along with manipulative tendencies - my most hated characteristic in a person.  It's ultimately a really selfish way of being, because arrogance is a trait that relies on a person believing that they're better than everyone else.  And I surely don't have to explain why thinking you're above everyone else is a massively selfish dick move.

All of this has come to the fore again, recently, because of my love of a television show called First Dates.  If you're unfamiliar with the concept, I'll briefly explain:  There's a restaurant in London and everyone who goes there is on a real-life blind date.  You apply to the show, give them a list of what you're looking for in a partner, what you're like and what kind of relationship you want and they match you with another applicant.  You go for dinner together, the date is filmed and at the end, you go into a room together and you have to say - on camera - whether you want to see each other again.  It's a show that can veer wildly between being unashamedly heartwarming and utterly, utterly brutal.

Oh, and just as a warning: if, like me, you're single, you should be aware that quotes like this happen a LOT.  Thanks, Fred.


Anyway, despite the fact that my terminal singledom is rubbed in my face by the sparkly-eyed French dude on the show, week in, week out, I can't help but love tuning in.  Sometimes, I see a couple and I just know they're going to get together.  Other times, I watch someone put up massive barriers and effectively push away their companion before they've even reached dessert.

This week, I saw a woman who I started out rooting for, before literally wanting to scream "GET OUT OF MY TELLY BOX AND RETURN TO THE PITS OF HELL!"

Why?  Because of her arrogance.  I wasn't lying when I said I hate it...

Preach, River, you utter Goddess.

So, this woman was 47.  She didn't look it.  In fact, she barely looked a day over 35.  She was sure of herself, confident and open in her demeanour.  She made an impassioned speech about how women should be allowed to be confident, without being put down for it and I swear, guys, I was with her.  I was with her so hard, I could have whipped out a flag and given it a good old wave.  I wasn't even entirely thrown off when she said she did topless modelling for a scummy newspaper, because hey, she made that choice through her own free-will (regardless of how little I think of the papers who reduce women to tits on page three every day in place of actual news, I don't criticise women who choose to show off their bodies or be proud of them, as long as it's their choice to do so).

But then... Oh God, but then... Then this woman just reduced her own speech to dust and left me wanting to bury myself with it so I didn't have to look at her anymore.  She managed to make everything - everything - about herself and how wonderful she was.  At one point, she asked the guy she was on the date with whether he was having a good time and before he could even answer, she added: "Of course you are, you're with me."   When she picked up her coat from the cloakroom at the end, her date told her that it suited her and she responded: "Well yeah, obviously it does, I look good in everything."

Literally the entire time she was on screen, she was bigging herself up, making every conversation about her and, as it turned out, leading her date on (she'd flirted throughout, even suggesting they snuck off "to the loo for a snog," only to tell him at the end that she didn't like him and wouldn't want to see him again).

And you know what?  I was so disappointed.


I was disappointed because she was bloody right in the first place.  Why shouldn't women recognise their good points and be proud of themselves?  We should build one another up, rather than tear each other down!  But we can do that without our confidence spilling over into arrogance.  We can be proud of who we are, without making everything about us, or putting ourselves in a self-proclaimed position of superiority over everyone else around us.  We can think we're fantastic - and vocalise that - without it stopping us from seeing the good in others, too.

If that woman had exuded confidence, rather than arrogance, I would have stayed on her side.

If I'd thought she was being ironic with her comments - bigging herself up in an almost mocking "bitch, please, I'm FABULOUS" sort of way - I would have stayed on her side.

If she'd dropped the act (and frankly, when someone feels the need to self-validate THAT often, then ironically, there's probably a major lack of confidence that's occurred somewhere along the line) for a few minutes and shown herself to be genuinely interested in other people, or complimentary to someone other than herself, I would have stayed on her side.

Instead, she responded to every compliment the guy paid her with: "I know."

"You've got beautiful eyes."
"I know."
"Your smile is really lovely."
"I know."
"You're becoming a total caricature of a so-called confident person, now."
"I know."

I may have made that last one up.


Look, we should be able to stand up and say "hey, I'm good at X, Y and Z.  I'm proud of my body and I like who I am."  That kind of confidence is important.  And we should be saying those things about other people, too.  

That's where arrogance is a problem.

Because when you arrogantly believe yourself to be so worthy of praise that you're constantly giving it to yourself, when are you looking outside at those around you?  When are you telling someone else that they look good, or that they've achieved something really great?  When you put yourself on the highest pedestal of all, how can anyone around you hope to feel like your equal?

It would have been so easy for that woman - whose side I was so firmly on in the beginning - to have been confident, rather than arrogant.  But the second you place yourself higher than everyone else around you - the second you start banging on about how bloody brilliant you are, rather than listen to someone who's trying to tell you about themselves - that's when you lose me.  And it's when you lose a whole lot of other people, too.  Because, since that episode aired, I've heard a lot of people talking about that woman and being exceptionally negative about her.

I don't want to live in a society where we don't allow anyone to be confident.  I don't want to rip people to shreds, just because they have the audacity to like themselves.  But I don't want arrogance lumped in with confidence, either.  

Confident people are not only able to see their own good points, but the good in others, too.  And they're unafraid to highlight them.  Arrogant people see their own good points and decide that they are, therefore, better than everyone else.

The irony is that not only are most arrogant people not really very confident at all, but they're certainly no better than anyone else, either.  In fact, they're usually the people with the most to learn.

I'd like to see that woman return to the First Dates restaurant.  But I'd like to see her listen to her date, show just a touch of humility and lower her barriers enough for us to see who she really is, beneath the arrogant outbursts.  Because the sad thing is, there's probably someone very nice underneath all that brash exterior.  

Someone worth having confidence in.










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