‘confidence’ is Googled around 2 million times per month globally.
After having gained eligibility, by joining the Cameroonian military, to compete for military training at one of the top academies in the United States, I was in the running. The first level of screening for the competition was a simple wall line-up with a Cameroonian official walking by, standing very closely to our faces and giving us an up and down. I’m not sure if this was to check for basic standards of physique or to check on how well we stood up under the pressure of such scrutiny. But somehow I was chosen out of the long lineup to go to the next level. I know that when you read someone’s story of success you expect to get answers other than ―somehow―surprisingly but I cannot give you any more than that. I know that hard work and determination are important but in the end I feel that life has its own personal destiny for each of us and that even if we tried to run away or work harder our fate would be inescapable.
The next step was to go before the selection committee at the American Embassy. I remember very specifically a few things about that time, but in-between, my memory gets fuzzy. I think that was partly because I didn’t understand English. My training for the academy actually began long before I knew I was in the running. But I would have never tried, had it not been for the confidence that was drilled into me at a young age by my grandmother. It could be a sociological argument, that confidence is a product of having been affirmed and appreciated at an impressionable age. Some might make the argument for psychology–that certain brains are just wired with the notion that nothing is too hard. Or it could be an emotional argument that my confidence was just an overwhelming urgency to get the affirmation that comes along with success. And then there’s the spiritual claim, that I was born with my confidence, that my confidence is a God given propeller meant to ensure I fulfill my ultimate destiny. But I believe I inherited my confidence.
Though I grew up with little to nothing in the realm of material things, my grandmother’s confidence in my ability to succeed was the inheritance she left behind in hopes that I’d eventually find a way to make it on my own. I would later come to realize that like the prodigal son, I had often spent my confidence in all the wrong places. In the years that followed my grandmother’s death, her voice of affirmation grew fainter with each passing day and it became necessary for me to prove something to myself, something more than what was so easy to believe as a young man who thought my grandmother would never die–that I would never lose my self-confidence, that my inheritance would last forever.