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I will begin this article with an anecdote that my father, that one-eyed, barrel-chested grapefruit of a man I only ever knew as Blackbeard, told me as a sprout. He said, “They told me I could never see again, but I showed them! I can see!” This he punctuated by jabbing his thumb into his good eye and screaming.
As a child, that story never made much sense to me, but for some reason, it stuck with me through the years until I learned its true importance. Papa Blackbeard was a confident man, and when they told him he would never see again, he laughed in the direction he thought their faces were. Despite the humiliation of laughing into the crotch of the most respected ocular surgeon in Plainview, Arkansas, he did see again. It all happened because he was confident, and, as the autopsy later showed, had an unusually high Midi-chlorian count.
I learned the art of confidence much later in life, and because I am benevolent as well as handsome, I will share some of that knowledge with you now.
It is important to be confident, or to at least make people think you are. Confidence overrides competence nine times out of ten, making it a critical skill to learn in today’s totally incompetent society. But what makes someone confident? Is it money? Or power? Or good looks? Or a glossy mane of cascading coffee-colored locks that shimmer like a horse in mid-stride? Or perfect teeth? These things help, but they do not necessarily make one confident. Confidence comes from two things: a constant inner monologue of positive affirmations and the ability to look another person in the eye without laughing. Inner monologues consist of things like: I know what I am doing! I know where I am going! Yes! Give me that burrito! And I will never eat Totino’s Pizza Rolls again! Not laughing just takes practice.
There is a perversion of confidence out there, however, and it is called aggression. The disciples of this ideal are the descendants of the power-suit wearing, greasy Wall Street bankers of the ‘80s. These are the people who read books with lists of rules and tips like #78: A man’s handshake should tell you whether or not you can kill him with your bare hands. #79: Never shake hands with a man you can’t kill. #52: The bathroom is an enemy that can only be defeated by grunting. The truly confident man doesn’t worry about the strength of a man’s handshake, or the color of his suit. The truly confident man takes his time in the bathroom because he knows that hemorrhoids are no fun. The aggressive man will constantly size you up like a wolf eyeing a particularly out-of-shape fourth grader. In fact, his books probably tell him to do so. The confident man will always treat you like an equal, no matter what.
When you are confident, people walk at your pace, whatever that may be. They listen to everything you have to say, even if you are a total idiot. Like Papa Blackbeard used to say before his tongue got stolen by the Tooth Fairy, “A confident nimrod can rule the world.”
I am a confident person 85% of the time. The other 15% of my life is time spent standing at a public urinal and waiting for everyone to leave before I start. I get stage fright; sue me. When I am confident, good things happen to me. I don’t fall, I speak assertively, my iPod plays only good songs, my dogs obey me, women find themselves at my Facebook page (just search Benjamin Frederick, it’ll show up), I shift blame easily for my farts, I get good grades – it goes on and on and on. And it’s all because I learned an important life lesson as a child: Don’t jab yourself in the eye unless you mean to. Ben Frederick out.