Today, I’d say that I’m a confident guy.

I scored a 99% for “assertiveness” on my personality test. Provided that I don’t die, I have no doubt that I will lead a successful life in one form or another.

I certainly have moments of fear or hesitation… particularly in live performance situations like talking in public or doing nature’s duty in the bedroom… but I never doubt my ability to ultimately overcome any challenge I face.

But I wasn’t someone who was naturally confident.

Throughout junior high and high school, I had zero confidence with girls. In fact, I hardly knew any girls. Because girls didn’t hang out in my social circle… because I didn’t really have a social circle.

I managed to make one Japanese friend in elementary school. But after a couple years of trying to tag along with the Japanese crowd in junior high, I realized they didn’t like having a greasy white boy contaminating their group.

In retrospect, my low social status at the time was obvious. I had poor hygiene and grooming habits. I also had the habit of making subtle but derisive remarks to people’s faces which tended to go unappreciated. As one girl summed it up after I made a rather rude comment to her: “Nobody likes you, know.”

I cleaned up my act quite a bit for high school and became more of a “nice guy” in hopes of doing better with the ladies. But we all know how well that works. I just got a bad case of oneitis, worked up the courage to ask her out, then got rejected. Like most modern guys, I was not trained in handling rejection so I spent a good couple years wallowing in self-pity.

I also had zero confidence in the money arena. I doubted that I could ever make any serious money. I felt sincerely grateful that someone allowed me to shovel alpaca shit for $6/hour. And I didn’t envision my career prospects getting much better.

However, in spite of my incompetence and complete lack of confidence in these two essential arenas of manhood, I had two assets that eventually triumphed over my inadequacies:

  1. A vision of what I wanted
  2. Confidence in my ability to learn

I wanted two things in life: a beautiful woman and wisdom. So I earnestly prayed for these two things.

And I did not judge my ability to learn based on my school performance (which was mediocre) but rather my ability to understand and apply what I read in books.

The written word is an amazing gift. It allows cowering orphaned boys to lift themselves up and become a man.

It was the written word that introduced me to entrepreneurship, sales, and marketing. I learned that with the right skills and perseverance, anyone can make money. We don’t have to live our lives with a poverty mindset or compete for low-wage jobs.

It was the written word that taught me the truth about women’s sexuality and how I could adjust my behavior to better align with reality.

Today, I have confidence that if there is a problem I have or something I don’t know, someone, somewhere, has figured it out and written it down… or at least the vital clue I need to figure it out myself.

My inner confidence came from the process of learning, not from my present performance or being “right.”

My learning process is simple:

  1. Research until I find something that looks like it might help me solve an interesting problem
  2. Skim the content until I have an epiphany
  3. Go on a walk and try to internalize the new insight. How does it fit or conflict with what I already know?
  4. Immediately update my mental models (i.e. worldview)
  5. Immediately make any necessary behavior changes

For me, the key to learning is the epiphany. If someone turns on a light, I don’t need to waste time examining the character of the person who turned the light on, asking what kind of light bulb he used, what mechanical motions he went through to turn on the light, or any other superfluous details.

I know when I’ve been exposed to the light because the light drives away the darkness. Likewise, the truth drives away confusion.

But we’re conditioned to believe that truth is difficult to grasp. That we’re not “qualified” to recognize truth. We’re told there are many complexities and contextual details that require special training to grasp.

So instead, we rely on teachers who do nothing but spread confusion and instill a sense of inadequacy in the student. We become like the silly women spoken of by the Apostle Paul:

…always learning and yet not at any time able to come into a realization of the truth. (2 Tim 3:7)

Yes, there are different degrees of intelligence. Some may need to spend longer processing a new idea before they “get it.” That’s fine.

But if you’ve been facing the same problem for years and haven’t found any real solutions from the “official” sources, then the problem is not you, it’s the teacher, the idea, the framework.

A man who can learn on his own has confidence. The man who relies on institutions to teach him will always doubt his ability.

Truth creates clarity. Falsehood creates confusion and guilt. Every man is fully capable of recognizing the difference.

You have a brain. You’re made in the image of God.

You don’t need other men to teach you. You just need someone to flick on the light switch so you can see.