At 65, I have many, many friends but very few with whom I can share my own thoughts/ ideas– that is precisely why I took up this blog for writing. The blog helps me keep engaged in talking anything which is my favourite. As is natural, still I have, one or two, with whom I can share ideas, is my friend Pranab babu . He is of my age, and has the same socio-economic background. One problem with him is that although he is intelligent, monetarily well off, have experiences in almost in every field of knowledge, he, as I find him suffers from serious lack of self-confidence. This irritates me, for, this spoil the otherwise rich discussion I usually have with him. I cannot hold back this irritation, I often ask him why he lacks so much confidence.
Once he really came out with the answer, he says “yes I lacked confidence throughout my life, I was aware of it, but even with my best effort, I could not get it over………whenever I would be in a debate or any discussion, many thoughts would come to my mind but could not take it out, for fear that my reply might be wrong, other brighter students would laugh at me or ridicule me. It would occur quite often exhausting me. Many times I would end-up being severely scolded by teacher in front of the whole class for an answer to a question, which I knew but not uttered.
But most important thing is that when debate and discussion ended, conclusion drawn, classes closed finally for the day, I would see that my reply which died deep into the mind at the source itself, would be the best answer usually—only that I did not record my answer outside verbally. The larger world outside could not know the talent inside me. This made me loose many a debate and discussion. It is common that I should have learnt from my past experiences, but I never improved. By this inhibition, I lost many a prize, many a selection in the viva voce test for jobs. Everything else remaining same, with a little more confidence I could even be an IAS officer!! In later life, in course of work I came in connection with many high ranking official whose knowledge was not more than mine.
Actually, this is a lack of confidence in the self. People say that when a person is properly educated and have a lot of information and knowledge, they can get over this inhibition. Superior knowledge brings superior confidence. But I do not think so, it did not happen with me–I myself is the evidence. In my case, I was in one of the best school in an area covering several districts, went in it after a tough screening test. But problem was that all the best students from several districts were in my class. While I would get admiration from my neighbours for my actual skill at maths and science etc, but in school, at least fifty percent of the boys were above me, I was no equal to them, used to be below them in performance . Even my best preparation would not take me near to them. This was a great barrier for me and in the course of several years of schooling ‘ I can’t do’ took a deep seat in my psyche which did not leave me in my whole job career and in whole of my social life.
Being put in a very good school, and having better students all around dented my confidence severely. Coming to larger social life, I never believed my performance could be best or in any higher order– having burdened with such thought, always I made a mess of everything. Instead of raising my position I would spoil my position believing that I could not do anything better than others. True to my skill, when I saw that I produced things really better than others—I did not believe myself, thought it was only an illusion, ultimately positioning myself for the last place. Apart from this, I had parents at home who were difficult to be satisfied. This also dented my confidence.
Confidence in the self is very important, when playing in a field not rocket science, confidence in the self, is much more important than merit/talent.” …………He wanted to go much further, his woe being too long, I cut him short.
I- your friend here– am not an educationist, only a responsible member of society. The story points to an working of mind which is unpopular to us. Tough competition among young ones in a high standard school often is counter productive to students in lower order, inhibits the growth of their confidence. This burden of broken confidence is carried throughout the life. If instead my friend were put in a less competitive school, he would have enjoyed more freedom in life, and his confidence would not have been dented in early childhood.