The naked truth

Confidence is one of those entirely contradictory characteristics. The more of it you display, the less of it you are likely to have. It’s exactly the same with fun: try to force it and you’ll be miserable. Get on with something else and you’ll find it anyway.

It was all particularly apparent this week during the annual Boobs on Bikes parade, where aged bikers ride through the streets of Auckland transporting topless women whose task it is to flaunt themselves and (oddly) American flags.

Thousands turned out to watch, apparently, and most people said it was just a bit of fun. It’s rather a strange definition of fun.

After all, most adults know there is only one reason people feel the need to flaunt anything – whether it is their flesh, a new car, or their education – and that is because they are deeply insecure. It speaks of the desperate need to get somebody’s approval, somehow.

We see it in the man who needs to be right all the time, or the young, skinny lad with a breaking voice and lowered, turbo-charged car. We humans only resort to excessive displays of confidence when we are, in fact, entirely lacking it in.

And one can understand why the women on parade must feel insecure. How could you not be when you believe your body – your best asset – is depreciating in value year by dreadful year? Age will eventually render worthless even the most physically beautiful woman, if she believes her body is the best she has to put on display.

But that’s what happens whenever we humans strip our identity down to a single dimension. If it’s our bodies, they grow old. If it’s our brains, they get addled. If it’s our money, it fails to buy us anything different from the rest of humanity in the end.

But aside from making us worthless, being one-dimensional also makes us extremely boring. I worked that out last year when hubby and I got caught up in Europe’s biggest gay pride parade. Wave after wave of reveller meandered past us looking completely distracted. Flags had long-since been dropped over shoulders, placards were tucked under arms and the vast majority were doing something very un-parade-like.

They were holding conversations with those next to them. We humans just can’t be satisfied by one bit of a person for long. We either grow bored and move on (which is why the pornographic industry that Boobs on Bikes celebrates has to keep finding new stars), or we get curious, and want to know more.

And that is the start of real confidence and true fun. You see, it is when we start to dig that we find what’s really valuable about each other. We, bit by bit, unwrap the only assets that don’t grow old, wear out, or get boring after a while. Little by little, we realise we can trace them through every part of who we are. We discover character, and we are enchanted by personality.

We realise that confidence comes from being valued for who we really are, and fun comes from sharing something with the person who makes us feel that way.

This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz

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