Rose Keating’s weekly column as published in the Waterford News & Star’s Well! magazine
I’M currently sitting at my laptop, a half empty, rapidly cooling cup of coffee at my side. Yes reader, I’ve finally accepted coffee into my life. It still tastes disgusting, but I’m old and weary and need the caffeine in my life. My tired body will not persevere without it; I must adapt to survive.
Right now, I’m feeling particularly tired, in the most bone deep sense of the word. I have two webpages open on my laptop screen; one has the definition for the word ‘confident’, the other has the definition for the word ‘arrogant’.
I’m trying to process the difference. Who gets to decide where the distinction lies?
Confidence is defined as “feeling or showing confidence in oneself or one’s abilities or qualities.” Arrogance is defined as “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.”
So if we want to break that down a little; confidence is knowing your worth, arrogance is thinking you are worthier than you. Confidence is knowing how good are, arrogance is thinking you’re better than you are.
I open up a different tab; there is a tweet open in this tab. There is a picture of a woman in this tweet; face lifted upwards, jaw strong, shoulders back, head held high. She looks outward, face open. She looks certain. She looks strong. She looks unafraid.
This picture is captioned “We don’t dislike Megan Rapinoe because she’s gay we dislike her because she’s an arrogant wanker end of debate.”
Yeah, time for another cup of coffee. The caffeine is necessary right now.
Let’s open up another tab and take a look at Megan Rapinoe.
Rapinoe is a professional soccer player, playing for and captaining Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.
She is a member of the United States national soccer team, helping them win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and taking home gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
In 2011 she was awarded the ESPY Award for Best Play of the Year. She is the first player, male or female, to score a score directly from a corner at the Olympic Games.
I mean, if I was her, I’d be feeling pretty confident in my athletic skills too. Rapinoe is, objectively, very good at what she does. She is highly skilled in her abilities. This is less an opinion, and more a statement of fact.
That photo of Rapinoe is stunning because her confidence shines through. Sunlight bright, strong, uncompromising.
I would almost use the word unapologetic, but unapologetic seems like a stupid word to even use, because why should any human have to apologise for being aware of their own skills? Their own worth? Why should Rapinoe apologise for knowing that she is good at the thing that she does?
Arrogance is thinking you are better at something that you really are; how can Rapinoe be arrogant when she really is just that good?
I’m not a sports person. I only know the biggies. The celebs. The ones that pop up all over my Facebook feed, that litter my Twitter timeline. One such sports celeb is more than the a little obvious; how can we talk about arrogance in sport without mentioning Conor McGregor?
McGregor sits on the line between famous and infamous. He’s revered, adored, borderline worshipped on an international scale. During my time in Groningen, I lost count of the amount of times that Dutch men, on finding out I was Irish, would beam and exclaim: “AH! Conor McGregor!”
The enthusiasm was endearing at first but lost its appeal by January.
I don’t know that much about McGregor. I know he’s made racist comments, said some really hateful stuff and is reportedly under investigation for sexual assault. As a result, he’s not someone I enjoy learning more about.
I also know that he is skilled at what he does. McGregor is a good athlete. McGregor is the former Ultimate Fighting Champion, in both the featherweight and lightweight category. I can’t disagree with the fact that McGregor is undeniably very good at the thing he does.
McGregor, I am certain, would also not deny that he is good at what he does. McGregor is very, very aware of how good he is.
His confidence in his own abilities is partly what has brought him such acclaim; his confidence, his bravado, is a large part of his appeal to his audience. Confidence is alluring, self-assuredness is attractive; McGregor embraces that and uses it to his advantage.
He wears his confidence with bluster and swagger, knowing this self-belief will only further him-as he himself puts it: “I believe in myself so much that nothing is going to stop me.”
McGregor is good at what he does and he knows this. Rapinoe is good at what she does and she knows this.
Why is it that when a man knows he is good at something, we call it confidence, but when a woman knows she is good at something, we call it arrogance?