Most of you that know me, know me as the confident, self-assured, tall, sometimes friendly guy who seems to have what it takes to do whatever he wants. Without any self-doubt. I know this because I get told this on a daily basis. Not only by people who are true admirers but even by haters.
I am that guy that many trust their inner secrets and emotion with. The one who is always there, willing to drop everything to help a friend in need. People trust me because they know I can feel and appreciate their feelings without being judgemental or prejudicial. My philosophies in life have always been 1. Unless you have walked a thousand metres in someone’s shoes, you cannot judge them and 2. I will pass judgement on others when I become a perfect person myself.
Therein lies the essence of my whole life. I am the furthest from a perfect person you will ever know! I’m actually that guy who is extremely insecure. I am that guy who just now (literally this minute) was even afraid of asking a very simple question from the tram conductor just because I started shaking inside at the last moment. I only needed to ask one harmless question and I chickened out because of self-doubt. It is the reason I have decided to share this other side of me with you.
How many of you would believe me when I say that I have missed a world of easy chances and opportunities in life because of my self-doubt? You see, I am mostly the opposite of the public persona you know. Even the people closest to me (partner, children and best friends included) don’t know the extent of my internal and never-ending struggles. I don’t blame them. When I talk, I ooze confidence. So how can I be so insecure? It constantly affects my work, my business, my private and personal lives in equal measure. If I am really half as confident as confident as you think, I would be a billionaire by now. It is not an exaggeration.
I honestly start to shake when my telephone rings and I don’t recognise the number. I break out in sweat just with the thought of calling a potential business partner to pitch an idea that I am convinced will mutually benefit us. In fact my laptop is full of ideas and (business) proposals that I have written but am afraid to send because of this self-doubt. Ideas and proposals that could transform lives are there staring at me while my insecurity is laughing constantly at me.
All I sometimes need is just to press that send button or dial that number. But my own doubts often paralyse me at moment supreme. There is not a hope in hell that I will ever recover soon. I am a hard worker. Yet my insecurities will never allow me to also become a smart worker. It means while others with the same capacities will walk 1 kilometre to get to their destinations, I will have to walk 20 kilometres to get to the same point.
The answer is in the book not on the cover. I know I have the capacity mental and physical to rule the world in whichever field I choose. However, I know why I am not the king of the world. It is not because of the lack of ideas or will. In fact, I know I am always the best in the things that I do, at the few times when I am able to defeat my inner doubts. The problem lies in the fact that I lose 1000 battles for every 1 battle I win.
This is a hopeless win-loss ratio which would have driven anyone to despair. Happily I am not that “anyone”. I am Femi. It is the 1 win in a 1000 that makes me look confident and secure to the outside world. That 1 win gives me the semblance of confidence that the outside world see. It is that 1 win that makes people disbelief me in those rare moments when I have tried to open up to them about my own demons.
I can’t recall anyone whom I have actually felt took me serious whenever I have tried to open up about my insecurities. The reaction is always like, “you? Get out of here! We have problems not you!” I have learned to live with this frustration all my life. However, at moments like today when I could not even summon the courage to ask a simple question, I feel like I am less human. I feel like hiding my face behind the curtains of the shame I feel. I am not writing this to ask for any sympathy or sudden understanding. It is to show you how appearance can be very deceptive. It is to show you there is another side to what we see in daylight.
I know it actually takes a lot of self-confidence and courage to expose myself in this kind of way to you. It is the 1 out of 1000 battles I have just won. If I don’t share it now I will lose it again to my self-doubt. Don’t you worry about me. I will walk and talk with confidence as always. My friends and loved ones need that to feel reassured while fighting their own battles. I have been there for everyone all my life. In fact, my partner always says if I asked a cent for all the times of everyday that I have devoted to being the shoulder other could cry on, I will be very rich now.
But I am not about to walk away now. Walking away would be the ultimate humiliating defeat in my never-ending battles with my strongest and fiercest enemy; my self-doubt.