How Iron Man Empowered Me to Have Self-Confidence

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

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How Iron Man Empowered Me to Have Self-Confidence

By Jehn Kubiak

“Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I’m doing.”

– Iron Man

“Really, Iron Man? Out of all the Avengers, you choose him?,my brother-best-friend asked me one day when we hung out. He’s probably not everyone’s favorite superhero since he’s commonly known as the “arrogant one.” The person who doesn’t take advice from anyone and tells it like it is. But you know what? That’s what I appreciate the most: his brutal honesty.

Looking back, I’ve always been “the wallflower.” That one person that is beautiful yet doesn’t stand out from the crowd since she’s so busy trying to “fit in.” I grew out of that a bit in college, but after finishing grad school, I went the complete opposite way – I[H1]  wanted everyone to know what I could accomplish, and that came out most in my lifeguarding skills. Last year was my fifth year of lifeguarding, so I fell into the classification of a “senior guard,” meaning that I’ve done the job so many times it’s second nature. 

However, instead of being humble, I was overly confident. And although I did mean the best quite frequently, I also made sure that people knew I was their lifeguard. My scanning was over-the-top, and I wasn’t afraid to let people know that I was a Lifeguard Instructor, Aquatic Facility Operator, and Certified Pool Operator who has lifeguarded at more than seven places in their lifetime. Instead of inspiring people, I became a turn-off because I was the “old guard” who wouldn’t take any kind of advice from a newbie or even a supervisor with less experience.

The funny thing is, I was so overly confident because I wasn’t confident in who I was as a person; therefore, I compensated for my lack of self-confidence with confidence in my aquatic abilities. At the end of the day, even if I detested my docile and sensitive personality, I was at least good at something. Anyways, I saw this same sort of attitude in Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Starks/Iron Man, as he has that same sort of cocky attitude that gets him in trouble. Even though I do think it’s over-the-top at times, and he ends up saying things that are often taken the wrong way, what I appreciate the most about him is how straightforward and confident he is. 

Not to mention, he does become a little softer later on in the series. So, even though Iron Man himself can be a bit prideful, the reason why he’s my favorite Avenger is because he’s not only confident in his abilities–he’s also confident in himself as a person; nobody can persuade him otherwise. That genuine self-confidence is what I strive to model. Over the last year, I’ve realized that I have a real self-criticism bent and am so quick to assume that others are criticizing me the same way–just not telling me. 

However, through the patience and acceptance of people who have poured into my life since last summer, I’m quickly realizing that the opposite is true; they want me to realize that I don’t deserve that punishment I put on myself  because I am a hardworking, compassionate, and driven individual. Be that as it may, it’s still difficult to remember at times, and I find myself back in that self-criticism spiral. At the same time, I catch myself very quickly and just ask, how would Iron Man react to this? 

In the end, his self-confidence reminds me that it’s easy to forget what it means to accept God’s grace; that ability to see past our mistakes and realize that he has forgiven us. Though it’s easy to forget, self-forgiveness is part of that equation. So, the question then becomes, how does one have this self-confidence without being overly prideful? I believe James’ letter holds the answer:

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

– James 4:6 (ESV).

Self-confidence isn’t about being better than people, or even being the best; it’s about accepting who you are, as God created you, and marveling at that masterpiece with humility.