The Great Pretender: Or dealing with Self Doubt

I’m involved in a new project at home. I’m building a garage onto the house. Last week in 104 degrees of wonderfulness, I sweated my way through framing up the longest wall. My wife was very impressed, to which I responded, “Eh, it’s okay.”

You see I know what I did wrong, and that it took me longer than it would have taken a professional. Those things eat at me. And yet, to my wife, step mother, and others not involved in the trade, the job looks just fine.

During a moment of quiet reflection while up on a ladder a few days later, I thought about that and about something an old friend of mine once said, “You don’t actually have to know what you’re doing, you just have to make it look like you know what you’re doing.”

I wonder if sometimes we’re a little too hard on ourselves as writers, artists, and just people in general. Maybe we bottle things up, don’t try as hard or put ourselves out there on the line because we know what right is supposed to look like and what we’re producing just isn’t it. But for all anyone else knows, we’re professionals.

So there’s your thought for the day. Are you being a little too critical when it comes to your writing or other areas in your life? Would people notice the imperfections if you weren’t constantly pointing them out? And are you more likely to let a minor mistake slide when a “professional” makes it? If so, let your own mistakes slide. Learn from them, but don’t let them hold you back. 


Mer said...

Wow--did this ever hit home, David. It's only been in the last year or so that I've realized that my rush to criticize myself is all tied up in an unconscious belief that if I do it *first* it won't hurt as much, won't feel as demoralizing as someone else doing so. I rush to beat them to it, you know? Now I'm beginning to realize that being the first one to point out my own faults, flaws, shortcomings all these years merely set up an expectation and indeed, acceptance, of being put down by any/every one else. UGH. Thanks for the apropos and thoughtful post about this.

David Noceti said...

That's a great point. The idea of self fulfilled prophecy. I used to have a book called "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself". The book was all about how 'the way' we say things often dictates how we act.

As an example: Things like "I might do such and such later on," are really built in escape route. We never actually said we would do anything, so no one can hold it against us if we don't.

And that's an even better thought about beating others to the punch; unfortunately, we're still the ones getting hit. I'm definitely guilty of that. "Hey, that project is looking really good." "Yeah, it's alright."

If you really think about it, it's also a little insulting to the other person as well. "Oh, just alright? I thought it looked good." "Well this this this and this are all wrong." That's sort of like saying, "Yeah, well obviously your weren't good enough to catch these mistakes."

Lots and lots to think about with this one. :)

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