Confidence. It's an issue for rather a lot of us.
I've lost count of the number of people I've seen online, or heard in person, lamenting about how they just don't have confidence in themselves. It seems like they're the only ones; everyone else seems to have it together. Will there be a point when they grow up and become comfortable with themselves enough to not have these doubts?
And there's the point right there. Of COURSE it sounds familiar.
That is because EVERYONE has those doubts. EVERYONE. I'm not just saying that to say that. We may have different levels of self-doubt and low confidence, but we all have it in some way. (Well, maybe not psychopaths. From what little I know about them, that seems unlikely, but not being a psychologist, I'll leave that idea alone. In any case, most people aren't psychopaths).
Any normal person is going to have doubt. That's part of what being a normal person IS.
I think it's especially easy for writers to feel this way. Most of us have the tendency to section ourselves off from people- nature of the beast, after all. With less interactivity, there's bound to be less of a feeling of inclusion, of being the same as these others. Add in the inevitable rejections, of hard criticism, of people who don't understand what it is that you do, of people who think being a writer is nice, but what about when you grow up?
Well, let's start there. With writers.
If you never attempt to do anything with your writing because you're worried about any of the above happening, you have a problem with confidence, right? And if you do work up the nerve to attempt it, one or more of the above is bound to happen at some point, and that can wear you down. It's hard to keep going.
I'm glad I joined Twitter. I have a writer's group locally, but with three kids it's hard to get out (I haven't been in two years). Twitter has enabled me to meet a TON of other writers, to talk and interact with them. When you do this, it's not difficult to notice that we have a lot in common. One of those is dealing with the above.
Huh. So. If we all have to deal with the above...and react in much the same way...seems like most if not all writers have difficulty with doubts.
So, that's part and parcel of writing. At least we can take comfort in knowing there are others like us, who know what we're going through. Even though we're the weirdos. Even though we're the outsiders. No normal people feel that way. There are plenty of people out there perfectly secure in who they are.
Well? Is it? You tell me, writers.
Who are we? We writers, we mad breed of life; what is it that we do? ...We observe. We observe other people, and report on it, all in our own highly individual ways.
So, observe others. Make up a story. Make them characters. The characters will not be perfect. They will have faults. They will have doubts.
So do people.
So does everyone.
We express our doubts in different ways; usually we try not to let others see it. If they can see that we doubt ourselves, they'll be less likely to take us seriously. We as a species admire confidence, which is why we're trying to hide our doubts in the first place. It's an important trait. Low confidence in your abilities doesn't help you kill the saber-toothed tiger, so to speak. Some of us are better at hiding our doubts. Some of us hide them so well we get to believing they aren't there (I'm looking at you, politicians). But they never really go away.
No. You won't ever get to the point where you won't have any doubts. And that's a GOOD thing.
If we didn't have doubt, we would never exercise caution. We wouldn't think twice before jumping off that cliff. The saber-toothed tiger would have us for lunch. We'd go out wearing plaid and polka dots together without a worry (gasp!). Doubts keep us in check. They manage our impetuosity, and keep us from doing really really stupid things. Most of the time.
Doubt is what makes us work harder. Doubt is what makes us strive to go farther. Doubt is what keeps us from leaving things as they are and saying they're good enough. Doubt makes us better writers. Doubt makes us better humans.
There will never be a time when you are completely without doubt. But, if you keep working at it, you will learn to manage, and to accept it. It will simply be a part of who you are. And guess what?
When that happens, some of that doubt will lift. By accepting your doubt, you will have new confidence in yourself.
And you won't be the only one.
I believe in you. You know why?
Because I doubt myself too. Everyone does. I can't say it enough. But I've learned to, on the whole, accept it. And that has helped me to realize that anyone can do it. Anyone, and everyone, has the potential to realize one thing:
They are good enough.
They are smart enough.
And, gosh darn it...people LIKE them!
Writer, dancer, actress, mother, me.