The more I come to understand confidence, the more I see it stemming from a lovely internal stillness. If lakes existed somewhere in the core of our beings, imagine the water like a glassy surface. Etymologically, there’s an element of trust rooted in the word because confidence is the “state of feeling certain.” I, for one, feel most confident when I trust myself, and I most trust myself when I really know myself. Put another way, when I feel at home with myself.
But confidence has been a struggle over the years. Oh, I have my moments—don’t get me wrong—but it’s an effort to know and trust myself when my choices fall closer to the edges of traditional society: I don’t want kids, I’m dubious about marriage, and I’m ridiculously satisfied spending a fair amount of time alone.
Because of these choices, I’ve had a tendency to pick my head up, compare what I’m doing to others, and then question every choice I make. The doubts have only grown louder as I’ve grown older and most people I know have settled down. It’s been a challenge to trust that what I’m doing is right for me since it goes against the larger grain.
But things began to shift last week when I once again spent time at Lake Nipissing, in northern Ontario. It helped that my surroundings were drenched in a palpable silence, making it easier to take a deep breath, let something settle in my soul, and feel that internal lake quiet from a steady chop to a clear-eyed calm.
Somewhere in that natural quiet—all rustling leaves and black-capped chickadee birdsong—I came to trust myself in ways that felt at first a bit surprising and then completely spellbinding. Even though I’d chosen to undertake the trip alone, I never once felt lonely—or bored. And once I leaned into the marvel of what that acceptance felt like, as opposed to feigning some embarrassment about choosing to spend my time this way, something finally blossomed.
It helped that each night, I’d grab my kayak, head out to the lake, and then just settle back to watch the sunset. I’d put on the playlist an old flame and I started back in April (and which is still going strong), crack a beer, and float. Throughout that evening ritual, one song came to represent my growing confidence: Rilo Kiley‘s “Silver Lining,” off the indie rock band’s 2007 album Under the Blacklight.
“Silver Lining” details the narrator’s once-crumpled self-worth as the result of a relationship that always marked her as second best. A non-committal partner who couldn’t see the narrator’s shine has resigned her to be a “silver lining.” But her metal shows a different gleam. “Now I’m gold,” lead singer Jenny Lewis sings as an electric guitar dances around her voice, doubling the 4/4 time and rippling the rhythm.
On the chorus, Lewis sings a doubled “hooray.” In that profession, I heard magnitudes. Where once she seemed resigned to take the narrative someone else had concocted, she now celebrates the way she soars past that story and into one of her own making. No longer a silver lining, she’s a glimmering, glinting gold.
Sitting in the lake, mere inches above the waterline thanks to my kayak, I felt attuned to the world and who I was in it. Lewis’ declaration resonated on a higher level. It was the kind of moment that slaked a long thirst, that bordered on spiritual. I am who I am. What a glorious realization to discover and admire—and protect: “Hooray, hooray.”