I would like to think that confidence and cockiness are clearly distinguishable, that there is a fine line between these two terms that gives us further insight as to how we can uphold a healthy self-esteem and self-perception. After all, I want to live my life as a confident person. And I am sure that just about everyone reading this strives to live as confident individuals.
To me, confidence is a mindset in which one is honest about their abilities and themselves in their accomplishments and talents. While they have and own up to their strengths, they do not mind admitting and owning up to their their flaws and shortcomings. Cockiness is a type of confidence, a counterfeit one, perhaps, that is the result of cancerous insecurity that uses obnoxious pride as a bandage to remedy it.Confident people may find themselves in situations where they are the center of attention and celebrated but they also revel in and find joy in celebrating others, having no problem with sharing the limelight or handing the focus of attention completely to someone else. Cocky people do not find joy in others’ accomplishments often because they suffer from severe intimidation by the accolades of others.
Confident people command attention in such a way that is effortless, especially considering the charisma such people tend to possess. Cocky people are harsh with their command of attention and that is off-putting to those in their presence.
It must be noted that the points made above is from my perception of confidence and cockiness. In each instance of these traits being displayed, there is a third party present: the observer. And, often times, in the discussions in which confidence and cockiness are compared, we fail to consider the possible dissonance between what we exude and what the observer sees.
For example, kids in traditional Asian households are often taught to be reserved and not to speak of their accomplishments. In these cultures, doing so is considered arrogant. However, in America, we are encouraged to speak up and take pride in our accomplishments while not being cocky. When this was talked about in my intercultural communications course in undergrad, we discussed how there can be a cross-cultural dilemma in which an American seeking employment in a country like China is perceived to be arrogant by a potential Asian employer because of those characteristics despite their self-perception of being confident.
The dissonance between perception and intention is not only a global ordeal but a local one. While we empower men to be confident, women are often taught to be soft and docile so when women try on confidence for size, it fits differently. Sure, men can and are critiqued for being cocky if their confidence is more on the obnoxious side. But we teach women to apologize incessantly for things that do not need apology. We are told to be bold but not too bold. Be straightforward but tone it down a little. Be assertive but not like that or else you will be intimidating. We socialize women into these constricting parameters of confidence that are much smaller than that of men that leaves them unnecessarily apologetic and paranoid.
The differences in behavior and the observation of the behavior is also based on how one was raised. I live in a home that was quite similar to that of an Asian household with regards to remaining humble and not being narcissistic. But I realize that living in America, being silent about your abilities can result in you having opportunities pass you by. Till this day, it is awkward to write or talk about what I can do in a résumé, in a conversation with someone I’m getting to know, and even on here. But I rely on the good chance that the audience understands what I am trying to communicate and the purpose stating my abilities is meant to serve. Given my upbringing, my being a woman, and my being a human being really, the pursuit of confidence has its weird and uncomfortable moments but self-reflection over the matter has shown it to be a rewarding lifetime journey for me. And I hope it continues to be that way.
What does confidence mean to you? How is that different from being cocky?