Aspiring to a Goat-like Confidence…

Wilde GoatIn the late 80’s, I got asked to a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert by a teenage boy I knew. He had lots of friends who drove, I knew he didn’t just need a ride… especially from someone the age of his mother. But we were friends and I said yes.

He proudly announced that he had found his self-esteem. Is there anything more awkward that a teenage boy who knows he’s awkward?

I remember looking at his bright eyes and the flush in his cheeks. He was brave enough to say it out loud, and as I congratulated him, I also bit my tongue. If he thought self-esteem arrived one day and then that confidence was yours forever, well, I wouldn’t burst that bubble. The world would challenge that soon enough without me.

That boy is 40 now, and I got a card over the holidays with a photo of his kids. They have the same thoughtful look he had back then–sensitive and intelligent. But in the beginning, self-esteem is a roller coaster ride.

Even more so for women–I think the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. This Oscar Wilde quote is right but it’s a soap opera free-for-all of ups and downs along the way.

Then once we finally do get on our own sides, we worry that our confidence might seem prideful or that assertiveness might be mistaken for aggression. It’s a nagging concern that any good trait might be turned against us; that the positive qualities that we respect in men become somehow suspect in women.

We should practice the reverse Golden Rule: Do unto ourselves as we would do unto others. For us animal advocates, it means loving ourselves as much as we love animals. Anybody besides me fall short on that one?

I think the thing I like best about getting older, (and there are lots of things I don’t like,) is that my self-doubt is easier to ignore. It’s still there, like a faded prom dress in the back of the closet. But I don’t pull it out and hack away at myself until I fit into it. Such maturity!

This small thing, this little ignoring behavior, sometimes lets me feel the comfortable freedom of a goat who puts his desire above naysayers; one who would jump on the picnic table and eat the melon salad. More than once. I try to take my cues from the (theoretically) less civilized animals with lower consciousness but I’m not perfect–after all, I’m only human.

One of the themes of my memoir, Stable Relation, is that process of learning to stand up for yourself. Good thing–it seems a requirement for writing and publishing a book as well.

Week 14 in the submission process. Forever; time stands still. No rejections this week. No acceptances either. Silence.

So I carefully direct my attention to some good news. This week, not one, but TWO authors, asked me to contribute my writing to their books. It fluffed up my self-esteem, so I’m just going to show my bottom teeth like Sumo the goat and keep forging on.

Do any animals inspire your confidence?


  1. I am still astounded that your book has not been picked up. Guess you have to be a politician to publish a memoir – but wait! Aren’t you the primary diplomat at your farm? Or does that title belong to Edgar R.?


  2. Yes, our four-legged family members do inspire confidence… sometime by them staying between the ground and I, others by their acceptance without strings (ok… they do like me better if I come bearing food…) Still working that reverse golden rule thing… but yes with more white hairs, I am a little less critical.
    We are all pulling for those silly publishers to get off their high horse and realize the best seller they have on their desks… many of us are anxiously awaiting to read the Stable Relations!


  3. All my animals inspire me, but one stands out in particular. Many years ago our young (and first) ACD developed glaucoma. He was a fantastic herding, farm and disc dog who ended up losing both eyes by the time he was five. I was heartsick, and after the initial diagnosis I spent a great deal of time grieving over all the things I knew he’d have to give up doing. But that little dog learned to do just about everything (except work livestock) that he did when he had vision, including play Frisbee and run up and down several flights of stairs like greased lightening. He’s been gone several years now, but two years ago when I suffered a torn retina the memory of how Dozer never let his loss bother him helped me keep things in perspective. Whenever anyone felt sorry for Dozer I always used to say that even though he was blind we knew he “saw” us with his heart.


    • I try to live up to my dogs all the time, I respect them even more than goats… I think I used to see photos of him, didn’t I?? Bless his inspirational heart.


  4. Is there an editor I can pressure so I can finally purchase your book? Confidence seems to be the main theme of my life. And it’s funny somehow because around horses the first thing one does (at least if one is appealed by horsemanship) is to claim one’s space. I have trouble doing that outside the barn though. So it’s the horses that make pretty clear where my confidence level is at.


    • This comment makes me laugh, but not in a funny way… Confidence was my issue too, and this book deals with learning to claim the space I needed, and yes, a horse taught me!! Nadja, I am going nuts trying to get it done, I watch the email relentlessly and I will make a space for this book, it is a story that many of us share in our lives. Thanks, and if it comes to a night raid at some point, I’ll count on you to ride along!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s