A little over a week ago, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit his 500th home run, entering an elite club of hitters who have reached that milestone. An integral member of multiple World Series-winning teams, Ortiz has become a hero to many Red Sox fans.
I am no exception; for over half my life, I have watched Ortiz smash home runs and come through time and time again. But I revere Ortiz for more than just the home runs and championships won. What I find particularly inspiring about Ortiz is the way he conducts himself on the field. Many opponents despise Ortiz for his infamous long home run trots and flashy bat flips, and I can understand why. However, the flashiness Ortiz exhibits on the field indicates a tremendous amount of confidence, an attribute that is imperative for success in any aspect of life.
A confident person like Ortiz is able to go through life without worrying about failure or rejection. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for students to watch their confidence wane in their four years at Georgetown. Being surrounded by innumerable smart and high-achieving students and professors, you may lose sight of your own skills and talents. It does not help that campus culture glorifies affiliation with a few selective clubs and student groups on campus. In conversations I have had with other students, I have noticed that the overwhelming tendency to dwell on rejection from these groups. In focusing on such negative outcomes, students place their value as a Georgetown scholar and as a human being on the decisions of others.
If you do not believe in yourself or your abilities, it is all too easy to look at failure as a mark of some personal character flaw. The reality is that failure is an integral part of life and learning. You learn far more from your failures than from your successes, provided that, in response to this failure, you adopt the right attitude. The confident person sees failure as a learning opportunity, but the person struggling with confidence gets caught up in failure, seeing it as a permanent mark on his own character.
I used Ortiz as an example of a confident individual because failure is inherent within the sport of baseball. Even the most successful players miss the ball around 70 percent of the time, yet that does not make them bad players. These players are actually the ones who do not get caught up in dwelling on their failures, allowing them to perform their best. They can confidently step up to the plate with experience and the knowledge that their failures do not define their skillset.
The key to success is convincing yourself that you can actually achieve it. This is why confidence is key. In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the main character Jordan Belfort is able to convince investors that worthless penny stocks have huge upside. When I first watched the movie, it amazed me how Belfort was able to pitch these stocks to investors and sell them. I later realized that Belfort was so fortunate because of his air of assurance during his pitch. He seemed so sure that these companies were going to be huge that people believed him. Like Belfort, we are all constantly trying to sell things to others in our lives: we work to convince professors we know the material taught in class; we try to convince our peers we are worth spending time with; we try to convince employers we are suitable for a job. If you hold yourself high, others will believe in you.
Despite what I have just written about the sheer importance of confidence, I will be the first to admit that I struggle with self-confidence every day. It is very easy for me to get caught up in my mistakes. As a neurobiology major, I spend every day convincing myself that I am not smart enough to succeed as a scientist. Although I struggle with confidence, I am confident in my own lack of confidence. I can confidently write about lacking confidence because I know I am not alone in feeling this way. In addition, I know that it can be so easy to blame the competitive nature of Georgetown for this lack of confidence, but it would be much more beneficial to look inward. How do you respond to failure? Do you let it crush you or do you let it shape you?
Joseph Murdy is a senior in the College. Yes and Know comes out every other Wednesday on thehoya.com.