I’m lacking something lately. A certain way of moving, on the bike, on foot and through life. It’s not Swag, something beyond that. That is not to say that I’ve possessed it my whole life — everyone around me knows that — but I was carrying a level of confidence that hadn’t before. I’m not sure where it went, or how one even goes about losing it, or gaining it for that matter.
I came into this season feeling confident. I’d done the work, pushed through the shitty winter weather and my results showed that I was progressing, even if I still had a few things to learn. Then I had an actual story come out in print. Then landed another online story (which will be out soon — I hope). It would have seemed that the confidence I was brining to my racing was starting to trickle down to my real life. Which is what I’d hoped for.
Then I upgraded, not on points as I would have liked, but by doing a shit ton of racing.
When I laid out my goals for the season (which I didn’t blab all over the damn place this year), upgrading was on the top of the list. I gave myself an out by not adding “on points” to that little bullet point. Its easy to just show up and do a number of races, which is why they don’t let you do it when you go from Cat three to Cat 2. I didn’t add the points addendum to that goal because deep down I lacked the belief to do it.
That’s the same reason I line up at the back. It is the same reason I struggle to hang on when I know I’m strong enough to do more than just hang on. Which is different than just sitting in. Because I dont’ believe that I belong. This relates to my real life (read: everything outside of bike racing) in ways that have to do with my salary at work, my near paralyzing fear when it comes to submitting more of my work, getting my self out there and trying to live my life the way I want to.
I have this mantra that runs through my head every time I feel I’m not getting the respect I deserve. The words “you can’t expect them to respect you if you don’t respect yourself” go through my head so many times that they should be tattooed on the back of my eye lids. People who lack that deep level of confidence can be sensed a mile away. That’s why the guys who run around looking “PRO” look goofballs because they’re pretending. Its an act. They’re so wrapped up in emulating that they wouldn’t know the real thing if it smacked them upside the head (note: I have from time to time fallen into this trap). Some are just clueless, others probably don’t really look themselves in the mirror long enough to see past the facade. You can tell when you find something authentic, no matter what impression someone is trying to give.
Back when I started riding again I came across this guy who was wearing his team bib shorts with a Rapha jersey on top. My mind was blown. I was running around town, feeling like an idiot for not having a matching kit and here was this guy, bad hair cut and all, owning the shit out of his mismatched kit. That left such a deep impression on me that I can still picture that moment like it was yesterday. I didn’t realize that until recently, when I actually lined up to race with him. That first time wasn’t an act, he is consistently like this. If he is faking it, he’s doing such a fine job that it almost doesn’t matter. Others pick up on it and also get convinced.
There’s another writer here in Portland who has the same thing. She believes, or at least seems to, in herself so much that it appears things get handed to her. I don’t know her personally, but I know that people don’t just hand her shit. She’s earned it by working her ass off, and having the guts to take the big risks required to get those things. I could go on and list more people who have that same sense about them, but I won’t.
One of my criteria for following people on twitter, or wherever is that confidence. You get a sense of that by the things they put out there. I’m even fortunate enough to be actual friends with some of them. I have to remember to take a page from their book and rediscover that thing I lost a few months back.