Chaya Block


Is confidence walking down the street with posture? Holding your head up high? Believing others when they compliment you? I believe confidence is multi-faceted, and even if I struggle to define confidence, I can certainly sniff from a mile away what confidence is not.

This is because when I was younger, I was not confident. I was the quiet girl in the class. The girl who was too shy to share her thoughts and opinions, because she was not sure if what she had to say would be smart or witty enough.

My least favorite subject is math. I assume it is because I always struggled with it. When my math teacher would ask a question during math class, I remember being afraid to put my hand up. Afraid to incorrectly answer her question, and cause myself unnecessary attention and embarrassment.

I remember how loud my little heart used to beat when we had to partner up for a sports lesson. I was nervous I would be the one girl left in the class without a partner.

I also remember watching “The Sound of Music” together with my mother. When Julie Andrews sings at the top of her lungs “I have confidence and confidence has me!” my mum used to tell me to sing along with her, hoping it would boost my self-confidence. I remember her telling me “when you believe in yourself, others will believe in you!”

One of the most pivotal moments in my life was the morning I received my year 12 Victorian Certificate of Education results. I received a text at 8:52 AM from the Victorian Department of Education. I remember being too nervous to open the text message. In it would reveal a number, known as my ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) which contains my final schooling mark. This number is the culmination of two intense years of commitment, consciousness, the hardest I ever worked for anything. The highest mark one can receive is 99.95%, and as many Melbournians will tell you there are countless jokes revolving around the “magic number”. Getting in the 90-‘s places you in the top 10% of the state, and if you receive over 95% you enter the top 5% range.

When I finally mastered the courage to open the text, my heart skipped a bit. Although not a perfect 99.95, the number was high and I was sure it was a mistake. They must have confused my results with that of someone else, and accidentally sent me the wrong ATAR. So I waited with bated breath by my phone for the next few minutes, expecting another text message to pop up with my real mark. But nothing came. After five minutes it hit me. This is your mark. So I jumped out of bed and ran as fast as I could into my parents’ bedroom shrieking with excitement.

For me, receiving my ATAR mark instilled with me intrinsic confidence. The confidence to know that when I set my mind to something, I can achieve greatness. The confidence to believe that hard work pays off. The confidence to never underestimate my abilities.

Yet, despite all that “confidence”, there are still times I do not feel confident.

Because being human, means to be imperfect. Which makes it impossible for anyone to always feel confident, all the time.

There are times when the greatest mathematician cannot solve an equation. The best teacher cannot answer a question. The greatest conversationalist is at a loss for words. The wisest parent does not know how to advise his child.

I have heard of confidence being compared to a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Confidence is when you stop living for others, and start living for yourself. Confidence is pursuing your passions.

Confidence is awareness of your talents. And your non talents. And embracing them both equally.

Confidence is acceptance. Acceptance of yourself.

And as Julie Andrews proudly sings, “I have confidence and confidence has me!”

About the Author
Chaya is 30-years-old and originally from Melbourne, Australia. She is currently living in New York City with her husband who is completing his Cardiology Fellowship at Cornell and their 2 beautiful boys. She holds a Bachelor's in Behavioral Science and a Masters in Special Education. For over 7 years, she has been working for the Aleph Institute, a non-profit that provides all encompassing support to those in their loneliest environments, namely those incarcerated and their shattered families left behind. She is particularly passionate about criminal justice reform and helping to break the vicious cycle of addiction, incarceration, and mental illness among youth.
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