Faking Confidence: An Interview with Carlos Vara

There’s a difference between having confidence and alluding confidence, and Carlos Vara has learned to understand both sides.

The Nashville-based singer/songwriter spent a long time personally struggling with confidence, from his closeted childhood in South Carolina to his first real taste of Hollywood.  That didn’t stop him, however, from finding a passion for music and writing.

His family gave him a broad sense of music; they were nightclub owners before becoming pastors, which meant that Vara was constantly surrounded by music. He remembers his mother’s love for female powerhouse vocalists – Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion – and how hearing their songs “made me feel some type of way in my spirit”. He remembers the church choirs that he would admire from afar each week. He remembers the year he spent unable to attend school due to Tourette’s, but instead learned basic piano notes and found the powerhouse voices of Freddie Mercury and George Michael.

While he surrounded himself with musicians that seemed to ooze confidence from their pores, he still found it difficult to find that confidence within him.

“As a person I never thought I'd fit in anywhere - not in church, not in school, not in any kind of way,” he said. “I always approached life from a self-worth that I was lesser than everyone. It was something I had to learn.”

He decided to learn by moving to Nashville when he was 18 to pursue music full-time. He took every opportunity to be involved in a writing session, worked any restaurant job that came his way and made sure every moment was a learning experience. For the first time in his life, he found himself staying in Los Angeles for several months at a time to work on music and being with people that he thought he could finally connect with. He learned the hard way that his confidence wasn’t as high as he thought it should be; the people he met making him feel like he wasn’t cool enough or good enough to be associated with them.

There was a night where someone came up to him and said, “You seem so confident just walking into this room.” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing; internally he was just sad and insecure. He spent so much time constantly in a state of comparison with the people around him. He went home that night and on a voice memo started composing his latest single, “Confident”.

“The cool thing about writing songs is that you can take something really sad or really dark and make something beautiful out of it, and I think I found confidence out of that instead of trying to hide the pain,” Vara said. “I’m emotional, I've always been that way but instead of trying to hide the emotional side of me or the crazy side I just put it on display. I've gotten confidence in the fact that I'm ok with being emotional and I'm ok with letting people know how it is. I'm learning more and more every day.”

Carlos Vara has been on both sides of having confidence and alluding confidence. This time around, he holds a powerful piece of advice that has stuck with him: What is meant for one person is not meant for another. Despite the pang of jealousy, it’s important to keep in mind that one person’s story is only meant for that person. With the ability to not compare himself to others, Vara has finally found his confidence.