aqua fortis

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Confidence

Sometimes, when I stop to think about it, I'm staggered by the amount of things I don't do because, on some level, I lack the confidence. I'm not talking about risk taking in the traditional sense--I'm not overly worried about the fact that I will most likely never voluntarily go skydiving, for example.

I'm talking about day-to-day things, work or creative projects or bright ideas that go unrealized because I've decided I just can't. Sure, some projects are inherently unfeasible, or impossible given time or money constraints, or just not great ideas from a practical standpoint. But so many others--even some of the ones that allegedly are impractical--fall into the category of stuff that I don't have the confidence to tackle. It even applies to blog posts: I get paralyzed because I convince myself nobody's going to care about what I have to say. Maybe they won't--that's not really the point. But it still has the power to scare me away.

Other things I haven't had the confidence to do: Write and draw a graphic novel. Be in a band (except for imaginary ones). Get over the idea that if I'm not constantly contributing directly and equitably to household income, that I'm somehow failing. Get over the idea that all work-related activities must earn income to be considered "real work." These last two are more substantial problems. (Some might call them actual problems as opposed to minor complaints.)

I feel ridiculous about this sometimes, because I know there's a lot of stuff I have done. But then I think about the things I tried to do and failed, or the ideas I started on and abandoned, muttering "What was I thinking?" And I balk. Again.

I'm in a serious "What was I thinking?" rut right now, which prompted this rather grim train of thought. Here's hoping I claw my way out soon and get some shit done.


tanita davis said...

And yet, we all thought enough of your mad skillz to vote you our graduation speaker -- and as little as I knew you then, I looked at you and saw Super Busy Chick Always Doing Things... and was in awe.

I think that's what most of us see. WE believe you can do anything.

aquafortis said...

So that's how I got to be graduation speaker! I assumed I was chosen because of a dearth of other applicants. Seriously.

Anyway, thanks. :)

David T. Macknet said...

That fear of being unable to finish something so not starting it? That's the product of being rewarded for completing things rather than being rewarded for trying things: it's what makes smart kids only attempt the things they know for certain that they can finish. So, they underachieve.

aquafortis said...

I've known a great many people who have this fear far worse than I do. I feel fortunate that most of the time this caution works in my favor and simply keeps me from overloading my schedule! But yes to what you've said re: being rewarded for completing things and not for trying them... Sadly, that does not seem to be changing as far as our social/educational values are concerned. (Or it goes too far in the other direction where everyone gets a prize for participating and nobody actually wins the race. :) Surely there's a happy medium somewhere.

Then again, how are we going to train our kids to be productive, ambitious, overworked adults? ;)

David T. Macknet said...

Ahh, "training them."

I've a friend who's moving from the Scotland to Minnesota (getting married to an American). He's certainly not looking forward to the whole 50-weeks-of-work thing - over here they get 6 weeks, and frequently take more.

aquafortis said...

Oh yes--the weeks of vacation that every other civilized country (including the supposedly workaholic Japan) gives (and in some cases mandates) to its citizens. Those welfare state lazy bums! ;)

David T. Macknet said...

Truly! And yet ... they're as "productive" or more than the US. Actually, that's probably not so: they're all a whole lot HAPPIER than the US.

Except maybe Japan, at the moment.

adrienne said...

I often have to speak sternly to myself to remember that I do not have to be making money every single moment of the day. I don't completely understand where that feeling comes from, but it can be kind of crushing sometimes.

aquafortis said...

Yes, same here, Adrienne. I know some of that inner voice (for me, anyway) probably comes from pressure put on me by my dad as I was growing up and going through school, but I wish it were easier to ignore.

Alacrity said...

I have never blogged until today. I stumbled upon another art teahcer's blog, who works in my district. It was so well crafted and inspiring that I facebook stalked her expressing my deep gratuity. It must be hormonal that I became so emotional. It lead me to open a random word document and start journaling. I haven't done that in years! Then, I made a blog of what I wrote. Randomly clicking next blog I found yours. And what you have to say is important. Now me? I'm so new at this I even got the url wrong, not knowing it was to describe the main blog title, not the article. So what I have to say isn't important, yet, but if I keep blogging, then maybe it will be. Thanks for inspiring me. :)