The Confidence Muscle

It’s been four days. I’ve taken the longest unintended break from these posts, but it’s been to foster relationships. The past three nights have been spent with three different people who mean the world to me. Each night held a new learning experience and each night taught me something about myself. I would say it’s been a fair trade off. I have a bunch of things on my mind this morning—I’ve been awake for ten minutes at this point and all of it just wants to come spilling out, so bear with me if this post is a little odd.

This week I discovered a new power outfit. My old power outfit is something that makes me feel like I’m constantly walking to my boat—a short sleeved navy-blue button up with brown/beige accents, grey pants, brown belt, shoes and glasses. It was guaranteed to be a good day when I wore that outfit, something about it just makes me feel powerful. This week though, I discovered how to ascend to the next level all while cheating the system.

A few weeks ago, at work, we formed a small committee and revamped the dress policy. I thought it was important I be there; as one of two men that the dress code would affect, I was not about to let anyone make decisions on my wardrobe without my involvement. It was a great process, and one that we all came to an agreement on, and I wasn’t just a silent observer until it came to talk about the male side of things—I contributed to the entire process, which felt wonderful. Something I made sure to address was the seed of an outfit I had in my head, I just needed to make sure that a cotton-shirt/blazer combo was acceptable, and I’d be set free.

At the beginning of the summer, I became obsessed with the look of what I was calling “a summer suit.” Just something light weight, a matching jacket and pants that would be worn with a plain cotton t-shirt. I had a plan to get something like this, but the money never seemed to become available. Eventually I gave up on the idea, but a friend took me to a wonderful, magical place called RW&CO. for the first time, and that changed me a little bit. I’ve been buying shirts online from Simons, but RW offers me the same wonderful type of shirts at home. The biggest thing about them though, is their blazers. I bought one that makes me feel… Well, I don’t know. I haven’t found the words for this feeling yet, but it’s some mix of sexy, strong, proud and fierce. The day I decided to take it out into the world, was a day that I got a little ugly. I’m not beating myself up about it, but I do have to acknowledge it. I have an easily inflated ego, and when a building full of women “just have to feel that fabric,” and whistle at you, it kind of makes your day. By the end of my shift, it was a fucking miracle I was able to squeeze my giant head into the car. My wife laid it out plainly for me when I told her about my runway ego, she said, “It’s okay to be like this. You’ve never seen yourself as attractive, you’ve never appreciated yourself for what you are, so soak it in. Just try not to let it last too long.”

And she’s right. I constantly worry that I’m too vain, or too into myself, but this is the first period of my life where I’m completely in love with who I am. I love my body, I love my personality, I love my creativity—I’m kind of just really into Joel right now, and that’s okay. It’s helping me accomplish a lot of things. I’m better at my job now, I’m better at interpersonal relationships, and I finally figured out a little secret to my power.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this, or if I’ve just talked about it, but I’ve discovered the confidence muscle on my back. Right in the centre of my back, just below my shoulder blades, there is a tired little muscle that hasn’t been worked out in just about thirty years. In my “default” position, I am the echo of a fifteen-year old boy playing computer games. This position has been set by horrible slouching over a keyboard when I was younger, and it has robbed me of height and confidence. When I started wearing button-down shirts that were tailored, I found the muscle. The shirts forced me to stand up straight. My gut is the type that is small enough to effectively smooth itself out if I stand up straight with my shoulders back, and the button-downs don’t fit comfortably if I’m not in that position because of it. My confidence muscle is directly engaged with holding my posture when I wear button-downs. When I wear t-shirts (something that I’ve realized have only ever been the wrong size for me), I tend to slouch in a big way—I don’t know if it’s to try to hide my stomach or what, but I take a good five inches off my height when I retract into my t-shirt pose. It’s bewildering.

The day I took my new power outfit into the world, I discovered the disparity between the garment postures. If it weren’t for the blazer, I would have never even noticed that I was slouching, but with my shoulders hunched, the blazer pulls ever so slightly—like it was Jesus Christ, our Lord and saviour tugging on my coat, saying, “get your shit together, bud.”

It’s weird, I don’t even feel the muscle until it become obvious I’m not using it. My mind tells me there’s something in it that “drops” when I pull it in. It feels like I take all of my power and all of my sexual energy, and I store it in my back—flexing it and dropping it. Once it’s locked into place—I feel amazing. I feel that change in me, the one reflected in my friends’ eyes when they see me. It’s the silly secret to my confidence, and it became glaringly obvious one night with my wife.

The easiest term for what I am right now is “separated,” but we’re on the upswing. We’ve been going on dates, we’ve been working on ourselves and (equally importantly) we’ve been having amazing sex again. The space has done us wonders, and the medication has turned the world on its head. Neither of us are who we were when I moved out of that house months ago, and we seem to be staring down the barrel of real change. I feel the change in her through a lack of edge; it’s one of those things that you don’t notice until its gone. She’s so very chill compared to the woman I walked away from. It’s obvious that at a certain point, both of our individual lives and consequently were ruled by anxiety. It crawled through our garden, choking out everything in its path—and once coupled with the extreme situation of moving in with her parents, there was simply no way we could have survived together.

She tells me she can feel and see a change in me as well, but I was oblivious to it until the night we went for shitty mall-Chinese food. We were standing in front of Sizzling Wok, surveying the sugar laden MSG-balls, and I looked over to her, for the first time in thirteen years seeing the difference in our height. We have always argued about my height. I’m 5’10”, and she’s about 5’6”. Never did she believe I had four inches on her because of my slouching. She never once believed me that I was actually that height, and I started to wonder about it myself, but as we stood there in the mall that night, I felt like I towered over her. For the first time, I wasn’t all scrunched up and looking in her eye. I was proud and tall and had to tilt my head to look into her eyes and bend to kiss her lips. I was my true self, and the way she looked at me told me that.

This period of my life has been turbulent and next to unbelievable. I’ve gone through an entire spectrum of emotions, but I came out on my feet and the universe has been rewarding me constantly.

I’m incredibly grateful for this journey I’m on. I cannot overstate how lucky I feel to be here now, compared to where I was when I wrote this in February.

Love lots, folks. See you tomorrow.