When I got into two competitive programs at my university, I thought I’d finally stop being so damn insecure. I believed my feelings of self-doubt would disappear. Here it was, finally: a measurable, visible thing that told me I was, indeed, good at this writing thing. Surely I would be more confident of abilities from now on…
Heeeeelll no. Lies! Lies! Lies!
If anything, I felt even more insecure. Because now the party’s over, and the war has just begun. From now on I’ll be among people who are truly talented. This is no joke, and I can’t bullshit anymore! In fact, I’m starting to believe the more accolades you get, the stronger the sense of “I’m-not-good-enough.”
Almost every writer I’ve ever met, online or off, has been insecure.
And I get it. We’re writers. We’re artists. We’re perfectionists. We hold ourselves to the highest standard and hate ourselves if we fall even an inch short of it.
And that’s awesome. It means we have high standards. We’re humble, and we know we can always do better. We don’t fall into a false sense of overconfidence. We know we have flaws we can fix.
But feeling inadequate and doubting our abilities all the time gives us debilitating mental strain. And it doesn’t help that society is all about competition. We’re always competing with whatsisname and whatsername for whatsthejob. We’re always comparing ourselves to the person beside us. We’re always seeking approval from our professors, friends, parents, idols, and ourselves. We always want to be validated for some reason, and the degree we get at the end of university stint kind of does that…but at the end of day, isn’t it just a piece of paper?
We want the ending but we don’t want the story. We like the goal but we don’t like the journey. At the heart of it all, each of us secretly dreams of being published, of our books dotting the real bookstores, of fans and fame and fortune. We tell ourselves that we write for the art and blablabla, but sorry, I know what you’re thinking! You want the recognition from your hard work.
And that’s okay. You probably deserve the recognition.
But I truly believe we have to stop thinking about the ending and think about the story. After all, everyone has the same result: we all die! It’s the story before that that counts!
It’s like you’re at one side of an abyss and you want to get to the other side. To do that, you have to construct a bridge. Sure, a bridge is going to cost you blood, sweat, and tears. Sure, you might need an extra hand now and again. But boy, when that bridge is done, it’s going to be beautiful. And when you cross over the other side, I truly believe you wouldn’t be able to resist looking back at it to admire its beauty and how fun it was to build it. And forget that you’re on the other side.