[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or a while, I had a hard time understanding what the difference was between self-confidence and arrogance. I was always worried about going from low self-confidence to high, and then going too far and end up being arrogant.
But rather than picturing this spectrum as a straight line with low confidence on the left and high on the right, it may make more sense to consider it as a circle or ellipse (I’m taking Rocket Science so ellipses are stuck in my head).
Back to my point: I don’t believe arrogance is the rightmost (or greatest) point on the spectrum. I do think, however, that you can cross a line from self-confidence to arrogance.
Imagine you are an ant on this ellipse (for some reason math teachers love to imagine they and their students are ants). You start at the leftmost point of the ellipse labeled low-confidence. As you travel along the upper curve to the right, you can reach the rightmost point: high self-confidence. This is a good spot to be and insh`Allah we can all end up there.
Now, arrogance comes into play along the bottom part of the curve, towards low self-confidence. See, arrogance has nothing to do with having high self-confidence. On the contrary, it is related more to low confidence.
Those who are not confident in themselves feel the need to have some superiority complex in order to compensate. This is when they start behaving in an arrogant and judgemental manner. They need to put others down to feel good about themselves. May God protect us from such feelings.
A line from Khurram Murad’s In the Early Hours relates self-confidence back to our relationship with God. He notes how “self-confidence is borne from the believer’s intimate knowledge and understanding that Allah is ever ready to assist those who strive and struggle in His way.”
A complete reliance on God will help us stay confident. We must trust that He has given us all we need to do well in this life. Sometimes we take this feeble approach to life because we are not confident in our abilities, but it is not befitting of the Most Merciful and Most Just to give you something you can’t handle. In the Quran it says: “…on no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear”(2:286).
Back to the ellipse. Another reason I like this new picture is because it represents the cyclical nature of life. We are constantly struggling. One never reaches the cliff and just stays there. Part of life are the ups and downs. We have to embrace them. We may slip up and start to feel a bit self-sufficient as we forget God has allowed us to be where we are. God-willing, we will reflect on our actions and strive to correct them.
I’ll conclude by just hammering home that self-confidence is a requirement of one who truly believes in God. A lack of it shows we don’t think He has equipped us with the necessary tools for success. This is an ongoing struggle, but that is life, isn’t it? May God help us be confident in ourselves and avoid feelings of self-sufficiency.