False Confidence by Vina H.

Behind the cameras, the curtains, the first impression, the too firm handshake, the posts on social media, the shoes that pinch your toes, even behind the smiles – there are people, a lot of people – who tear themselves down just to be built back up again. People who try to fit themselves into a frame that will never be big enough. This isn’t self-esteem. This isn’t comfortable. This isn’t confidence. No matter how hard someone tries, they will never be part of “normal” or “ordinary” because that doesn’t exist. “Normal” and “ordinary” don’t exist. People everywhere are chasing after these empty ideas – chasing after false confidence.

‘False Confidence’ is also the name of a song created by Noah Kahan. This piece emphasizes a series of relatable emotions that inspires other artists and influencers to share their own stories and spread ideas about their confidence. The idea that is expressed through this piece is the concept of how people change, not because they want to, but for the sake of becoming something they find to be more “popular” or “superior” than what they already are. But in the end, expressing individuality is how to achieve confidence. 

Throughout the song, there is an emphasized series of emotions that makes the piece very relatable. Starting with the burning feeling of embarrassment – in the music video, Noah Kahan gets on stage for the first time. He nervously sat down, adjusting his black flannel shirt. Gripping the guitar too tightly, he inhaled sharply and started playing. The audience was nothing but a huge sheet of judgment and skepticism. With each cocked eyebrow and each confused stare, Noah Kahan’s already weak confidence, started to waver. Uncomfortable situations like this have happened to everyone, whether on stage or not. 

The aftertaste of embarrassment is self-doubt – something common throughout the cracked and crumpled aspects of everyone’s lives. There’s a time in the morning when people would stare at the mirror – squinting, cringing, rummaging, fumbling, and rearranging their outfits. There’s also a time at night when people stare at the ceiling and sink themselves back into the moments where they supposedly “messed up” or did something “uncool”. The frustration and doubt of these thoughts are conveyed through this song. There is this thin veil of assurance that people put on. Phrases like these get repeated; “As long as I wear this, I’ll fit in,” “As long as I do this, people will like me,” or “This is what will make me look the most perfect.” The lyric: I fill the void up with polished doubt, fake sentiment mirrors these phrases and frustrations, allowing the audience of this piece to relate to the drowning feeling of self-doubt.

After holding onto embarrassment in one hand and grasping self-doubt in the other, people start feeling tired – there’s a tiny urge for them to just stop – stop caking on a face full of makeup, stop melting in a hoodie in the middle of summer, stop being someone else because that’s already taken. In the music video, during the last performance at the bar, tired of chasing after false confidence, Noah Kahan wore the same black flannel from his first performance. He gave his best performance, not caring about being anyone else but the one person onstage.

The audience was different this time around. They didn’t cock their eyebrows or shoot confused stares, they nodded and smiled. That’s all it took for Noah Kahan to find – not false confidence but real confidence.

The feeling of being tired of embarrassment and doubt is something everyone goes through. This is why when Noah Kahan expresses the idea of finding confidence after trudging through these frustrating emotions is so relatable – because everyone has been there before.

Since this song is a string of emotions that is quite common throughout different communities everywhere, artists can interpret this and express individuality on how they found their confidence. Divisional finalists from World of Dance, Sean & Kaycee choreographed one of their most successful pieces using this song. Kaycee starts the song off with empty movements, with her limbs in a depressed haze. As the tempo of ‘False Confidence’ speeds up, her movements jab out energy until she appears confident. Essentially, this dance demonstrated how she found her confidence slowly.

The fact that ‘False Confidence’ inspires others to share their ideas on how they achieved confidence shows how a piece being relatable can influence people’s lives. Artists like Noah Kahan are part of the factors that inspire and urge people to break the cycle of self-doubt and be something that they’re not. 

At the end of the day, someone shouldn’t have to tear themselves down just to be built back again for the sake of boosting self-esteem. It is because this song articulates such a common series of emotions that people can empathize with it- starting a domino effect among people in their communities – helping others end their chase of false confidence.