Sometimes I’m confident I know what I’m doing. But every once in awhile? I feel like I’m completely fucking lost. Always on a Saturday, too.— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) August 18, 2012
That tweet is inspiring.
When you’re beginning as a public professional, you get told you’re never supposed to show self-doubt. You’re supposed to show this exterior positive face. Everything’s fine. Everything’s wonderful. Be upbeat and positive.1
I suppose that’s good for creating a cult of personality. It’s good if you’re trying to convert people.
And it’s hell on everyone else.
We’ve had a lifetime of stories where problems are solved in thirty minutes to a laughtrack. Where our heroes (whether the Founding Fathers or Jesus or anyone else) don’t have the doubt and fears that we do. And when we have those doubts that we never see anyone “successful” have, we doubt whether we can be successful too.
In public this last weekend, other fledgling authors saw people like Jason Sizemore, Jerry Gordon, and Alasdair Stuart (for example) all compliment my work. IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE.2 But those other fledgling authors probably did not see me go huddle in a puddle of insecurity, or see me wince when I got a rejection letter the day before, or be upset at a relatively minor slight, or the trench of self-doubt and depression that directly led to “The Writer’s (Lack) of Self-Confidence“. The public person those fledgling writers saw looked a lot like someone without doubts, like someone without problems, like someone without concerns and fears.
I know that in the last few weeks, I’ve had quite a few writers come to me with their own insecurities. With their own fears. With their own doubts. With their own sense of “not measuring up”. And they came to me because they thought I’d “made it”.
I think I was able to give them good advice. I think I was able to give them good strategies.
Not because I’ve gotten beyond that insecurity. But because I still wrestle with it on a damn near daily basis.3
Which brings us to Amanda Palmer.
Specifically, to her song “In My Mind”, which came up on random while I was doing my post-con cleaning of the house. And I had to stop, and sit down for a while, and once I’d gotten my emotions back under control, I realized that I had to write this post and make sure you all got to hear this song. (There are a few f-bombs, so if you’re at work, use headphones.)
In my mind
In a future five years from now
I’m 120 pounds
And I never get hungover
Because I will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I’m in
And I will be someone I admire
And it’s funny how I imagined that I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I’ve just forgotten how to see
That I’m not exactly the person that I thought I’d be
At least go read all the lyrics, because it’s not only a perfect musical note for these two posts, but it also shows the way forward and through and up and out of all that horrible self-doubt.
And Bob knows we need that.
It’s embedded below (both video and audio); you can also get it (and all the lyrics) at AFP’s Bandcamp page.
1 Note: There’s a huge difference between “not being positive” and “being destructive to others”. The latter is simply being an asshat.
2 I hate pointing this out. I am NOT bragging; I’m only doing it to make the point in the rest of the paragraph.
3 Note to those people, who are probably reading this and might be feeling guilty: Because I am also wrestling with the same things, helping you helps me too.