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. 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 am 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 just 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 (wife, 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. I am not exaggerating.
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 financial benefit us. In fact my laptop is full of ideas and (business) proposals that I have written but afraid to send because of this self-doubt. Ideas and proposals that could transform lives are there staring at me in face while my insecurity is laughing constantly at me. All I just need sometimes is to press that email button or dial that number. But my own doubts paralyses 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 in the few times 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. It is that 1 win that 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 Femi? 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. I am writing this to show you how appearance can be very deceptive. It is just 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. I know 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 wife always says if you ask a dime for all the times of everyday that I have devoted to being the shoulder other can 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.