The Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance

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Sometimes I have moments you might call “epiphanies of hindsight” or lessons I didn’t realize I was learning until I reached some vantage point and looked back to see where I’d been. This is one of those.
Here it is: arrogance and confidence are not the same thing – not even close. In fact, they are practically opposites.

Arrogance is the bluster that ultimately comes from fear and insecurity. Confidence – true confidence – is quiet, calm, and difficult to shake.

Arrogance is easy, addictive, and fairly common. It comes with the adrenaline rush of overcoming challenges to your ego, and the satisfaction of proving others wrong with stinging attacks that are sure to send your enemies packing, thus protecting your fragile faith in your own intelligence worth and abilities. So long as you are successful in repelling these attacks and defending yourself and your beliefs, you feel vindicated, justified, and – for the moment – confident. As soon as the next attack comes however, your blood is pumping again and you feel threatened, indignant, and persecuted.

True confidence, on the other hand, is less common, because it is hard won through self awareness, humility, and a great deal of sustained effort. It is also a lot less visible because a person with true confidence has nothing to prove. They also have nothing to hide and nothing to fear, because they are practiced at the skill of hearing criticism, processing it, and learning from the information without taking it personally.

Arrogance is just the opposite. With arrogance, uncertainty itself is so terrifying that even the possibility of being wrong is unacceptable. The skill of adjusting to new information or circumstances has not yet been developed; our personal identity is so strongly tied to our beliefs and plans, our ego so resistant to change, that our fight-or-flight response is engaged when confronted with any serious critique of our beliefs or actions. We come up with excuses and rationalizations, or go on the attack, or even retreat to the safety of “friends” who will allow us to remain safely in denial.

Arrogance is essentially a reflexive willful ignorance of our own mistakes; but when you refuse to acknowledge your mistakes, they don’t go away. They fester and become doubts and insecurities.

The way to true confidence is facing your shortcomings learning the lessons they have to teach you, and acquiring the skills to overcome them. In this way, you transform your shortcomings into strengths. This process itself can be very painful in the same way cleaning a wound can be painful, and yet it is necessary in order to heal and strengthen our confidence (not a bad analogy, right? I totally stole it). This is far from easy, in fact it’s likely that no one has ever perfected this skill, (certainly not the author of this post). It is however, less a prize to be won and more a skill to be honed. It involves a great deal of practice, failure, embarrassment, discomfort, hard choices, and harder consequences. From this crucible however, comes the gold of true confidence. It is the muscle that comes from long hard work, the mastery that comes from years of practice, and the serenity that comes from a life lived honestly and skillfully.

I am far from free of my own arrogance. Those who know me well however, have seen my confidence grow substantially in recent years. This is how I’ve been doing it. I still have a long way to go. I have spent years sharpening my excuse-making, rationalizing, and verbal sparring skills, but have only just begun to develop my skill at honesty, true listening, courage, and self-discipline. Every day, it seems, I find hidden strongholds of arrogance in my beliefs and attitudes, but I am trying to flush them out with honesty, courage, listening, self-discipline and effort. I think I’m just beginning to understand what courage is, and as I do I’m recognizing it in others and gaining inspiration and encouragement.

Thank you, all my friends and family who have cheered for me along the way. I love you all!

Why a Composting Toilet?

A Bus Called Home

As I have been looking at examples of really well done school bus conversions, I’ve started to notice a common trend in the bathrooms I’ve seen: nearly all of them have composting toilets. This came as a surprise to me and there were a lot of questions I needed answered in order to convince me to go with a composting toilet. Many of theses were finally answered in the video below, but a few I had to figure out on my own.

Here are my particular questions:

Q: Isn’t it more smelly/unsanitary/gross than a conventional toilet?

A: No. Just the opposite in fact (see video). Next question.

Q: Isn’t it cheaper and simpler to just install a conventional RV toilet with a black tank?

A: No, and NO! Even a high-end composting toilet like Nature’s Head, at about $900 (+/-)  is cheaper than buying an RV toilet, black tank, and plumbing, and spending the time to cut the necessary holes, mount your black tank, buy chemicals, etc. It is also WAAAAAY easier to install and maintain a unit like Nature’s Head (see video). In addition, a conventional RV toilet should really be installed directly above the black tank so solids have a straight uninterrupted path down to the tank; this limits where you can put the bathroom in your floor plan (i.e. not over the wheel wells, fuel tank, battery box, etc.) Compare that to a fully self contained composting toilet that you can put ANYWHERE. You literally just set it down somewhere (optionally securing it with a couple screws for comfort & convenience). So in summary, you don’t save any money by going conventional, and you DEFINITELY don’t save any time or effort.

Q: Isn’t it simpler to maintain a conventional RV toilet?

A: No. Definitely not. Watch some YouTube videos on the Nature’s Head toilet and compare with videos on dumping, cleaning, and maintaining ANY conventional RV toilet / black water tank system. Not to mention installation. Don’t even get me started on installation.

Q: What’s the difference between a composting toilet and a regular old (and much much cheaper) camping toilet?

A: A lot actually:

  1. Camping toilets usually ARE more  smelly/unsanitary/gross than a conventional toilet.
  2. You can only legally (and safely) “dump” waste from a camping toilet at specific facilities. Camp toilet manufacturers claim you can just dump the contents in any toilet, but have you ever tried dumping several gallons of waste into a toilet? Compare that to compost from a composting toilet which can safely and legally (and non-grossly) be disposed of anywhere from your local dumpster to on/around non-edible plants or trees.
  3. Camp toilets still need to be cleaned and maintained (if you don’t want them to be completely disgusting) using (often toxic) chemicals and deodorizers. A composting toilet like Nature’s Head simply has a crank on the side that you turn a couple times with every use, and when it gets hard to turn, you dump the contents. You don’t even have to clean it out. Anything toxic is dead and sterile within a few hours of your last use. Also did I mention it’s not smelly and gross? (see video)
  4. All that said camp toilets are way cheaper. You can get a top of the line camp toilet for about $100 vs something like the aforementioned Nature’s Head which runs around $900.

Conclusion:

A camp toilet is a temporary solution at best for a bus I plan on living in full time, so my choice is really between conventional and composting. Considering there is no cost advantage to getting a conventional unit and a lot of convenience advantages to getting a composting toilet (for instance no need for a black tank whatsoever) not to mention health safety and environmental advantages (zero water & power usage, cleaner safer disposal, less pollution, etc) this has become a no brainer for me, but I think the most compelling fact is that as of this posting I have never heard of anyone who switched to a composting toilet and regretted it. Definitely let me know if you have!

The Re-write

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Looking over my last dozen posts or so, I’m noticing a pattern. At some point (probably around the time I decided I wanted to be “a writer”) my posts  shifted from a collection of personal narratives, to very preachy didactic “articles.” Their no bad per-se, but I guess I’ve just decided I don’t like that style or that vision for my blog. I’d rather just tell stories about my adventures. Hopefully well written stories, but stories nonetheless. Here goes!