Does anyone ever get good enough at what they do that they never doubt themselves? I personally haven’t met anyone yet who has outright told me so, but on a day to day basis I see people that convince me they are. I guess that’s part of the secret to success, blagging it.
A good friend of mine was responsible for managing a Formula One event. The thought of all that responsibility made my stomach turn over and when I told him this he knew exactly what I was talking about. “I pinch myself Gary, I wonder how the fuck am I getting away with this?” But he did, 3 years in row! And on the back of it he got head-hunted by another company.
The people who ‘get away with’ must be doing something right? I mean on the lower level of responsibility as a painter I often think ‘people are paying me to paint their house, how easy is this?’ But realistically I must be quite good at it ‘cos people tell other people about me and I get asked to paint more houses. So I guess we might think we’re getting away with it but in truth we’re actually just doing it. Which brings me back to the original question, why the doubt?
I do some writing. It started as a blog when my wife and I did an overland trip mostly to keep family and friends updated on what we were up to. They enjoyed it (they were family and friends!) but they told other people about it and they enjoyed it too. Some actively encouraged me to write and for this I’m grateful, sort of.
After a bit of false start with a “ Writing Comp “ I found a brand new magazine that seemed to offer a platform for the stuff I was keen on writing about. I contacted them and told them a little about myself and the trip we’d done. The Ed was keen to meet up and have a chat about where to go with regard to doing a piece on the trip, he was suggesting an ‘as told by’, but in the meantime asked if I would mind knocking a summary of what we’d done and where we went in order to have something to go from.
After a bottle of wine and maybe a couple of whiskys I came up with this. About 5 minutes after emailing to the editor my inbox pinged. To cut a long story… He loved it, said he would like to run it as is. I was stoked. I was even more stoked when he asked me if I would like to be a regular contributor.
So why, after writing something, reading it, re-writing, reading etc. then deciding it’s finished, do I still have that feeling of impending doom that it might not be good enough? I submit stories before the deadline but never know whether they are in the mag until it arrives in my postbox. As the publication date approaches the gnawing in my insides increases. Why!!?? The pay is close to fuck all and it’s a niche mag with a relatively small market, but that’s beside the point isn’t it?
Why can’t I just write it and let it go. If it gets out there it does, if it doesn’t what does it matter? I still wrote it. It’s approval isn’t it…? Why do I need approval? It’s a bloody story, it’s an hour or two in front of a computer. It’s letters on a white background. I’m 45 and some would say living the dream and still seeking approval. If I wasn’t would I be arrogant? Is arrogance always a bad thing. Those arrogant people must be the ones with no self doubt? So why don’t we like them? Shit I’m tying myself up in knots here. Doubt is quite obviously a human trait, and I presume that we dislike arrogant people because they’re not like us. But are they kidding us?
Doctors would have to be one of the most common perpetrators of arrogance that I’ve come across, but shit, how would you feel if they displayed that ‘human trait’? I bet a pound to your penny that you wouldn’t be hurrying back to a doctor that confided he wasn’t sure if he was good enough and thought he was getting away with it. They must think it though. So arrogant people are just better a ‘blagging it’?
I don’t want to be arrogant, and deep down I don’t think I’m really bothered about acceptance (that’s a lie, I must be) but I wish I could lose the doubt and just be happy with my own work, with my own words, and if other people like them that would make me happy too. And truthfully if people didn’t like it I would be happy if they told me, and why, nicely…