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You Don’t Need Confidence in Your 20s

In fact, any confidence you do have is a lie.

Photo by Tusik Only on Unsplash

We live in a world that values confidence. Rightly so. It’s the ultimate desire of the new generation. We seem to lack it on a big scale.

Generation Z, my generation, is the first to grow up with social media in hand. I was about 10 or 12 when Facebook started to take off. Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat dominate my highschool memories.

A lot of good came from this and a lot of bad. I’m sure there are plenty of examples, but I’m going to focus on one thing that I personally struggled with.


It’s never been easier to go online and be paraded with people who seemingly have life figured out.

We all know about this ‘highlight reel’ effect, and knowing about that doesn’t stop us from looking at the people who have achieved the goals we want to achieve and instantly comparing ourselves to them.

This seems to have created an entire generation of people, including myself, who lack confidence. Or on the other side of the spectrum, seem to have fanatical misplaced confidence that doesn’t reflect reality.

It’s too easy to live in the fantasy of your screens and watch all the other 20-year-olds get good jobs, start their own businesses, etc..

Meanwhile, well-meaning self-help content creators preach being confident in yourself. But how can you be confident in yourself if you're always behind the curve? Always looking up at people doing better than you?

The confidence myth

People treat confidence as if it’s something you are born with, or somehow decide to have one day.

‘Believe in yourself’ is how it goes. And it’s bad advice.

You don’t just wake up with confidence one day. If you do, you haven’t woken up with confidence, you’ve woken up with delusion.

There is no reason to be confident with yourself. You haven’t done anything worth being confident in.

A lot of people walk around today with baseless confidence that isn’t backed by anything in particular. This is that belief in one's self.

You only need to ‘believe’ in something if it’s not actually there. If confidence is knowing you’re competent in something then belief in one's self is the very opposite of confidence. It’s arrogance. And it won’t last.

The confidence truth

The truth is, confidence can come from one thing and one thing only, experience.

You can’t be confident that you're a great football player if you’ve never played football. All you have to do to spot this difference between confidence and arrogance is watch a football game with a group of people.

I have no doubt you’ll hear someone in your group start giving advice through the TV. As if they think they can do a better job than the player or the coach. This is arrogance at it’s finest. And we do it all of the time.

How often do we look at what others have done and then indulge in the delusion that it should be us with that accomplishment?

True confidence can only be based on experience that you actually have. It’s based on something you’ve done over and over again, and know that you can do because you’ve done it many times before.

What you actually need

If you’re in your early 20s like I am, avoid feeling confidence altogether. It can only be fake.

So what then? We’re told that we need to be confident in ourselves all the time. That’s the way to get ahead in this world. Be confident in yourself.

Fake it until you make it, right?

ehhh. Fake it until you make it basically means your lying to yourself and everyone around you.

You don’t need confidence to move forward in life. What you need is courage.

If confidence is knowing your good at something, courage is doing something without knowing what’s going to happen.

It’s doing it anyway. Even though you don’t know if your good or bad. And your probably bad.

You should be bad at least. How can you be good and confident in something you’ve never done before?

That’s why you need courage. Courage says, “I know I'm probably not very good at this. I know it’s probably going to end badly. But I’m going to do it anyway and see what happens.”

Courage is what earns you real confidence. Not the other way around.

Final Thoughts

You might ask, “Hey, Adam. Are you confident about this?”

The answer is no. I’m 23. How could I be confident about the life advice that I’m giving? Because I’m an old soul? No. I’m not confident that this is the right mentality to have. But it’s worth a shot.



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Adam Stinson

Adam Stinson

Helping college dropouts gain control of their lives through financial education. Go to for a field guide to non-traditional success.