Confidence

I have been thinking about how my parents, as Midwesterners, have discouraged us from feeling too high and mighty. M. and I were trying to explain this to C. the other day, the kind of innate pessimism of Midwesterners. Don’t hope for too much. Don’t think this is going to work out. Work hard and rise to the middle.

One thing that has always confounded and delighted me about living in Nashville is how, with just the luck of being where an editor could see me, I’m now in a position where U.S. Representatives know and read me. I just don’t think that would have happened if I had stayed in Illinois and I can’t quite say why except for, in Illinois, I just wasn’t one of the people that could happen for and down here, there’s not that same barrier, whatever that barrier is.

And yet, still, the idea that I have written something that’s appeared in the Washington Post is ridiculous to me.

I sent my piece in early and told them it was so I had time to rewrite it if they didn’t like it. They told me it was great and I needed to have more confidence in my writing.

I kind of joked it off by saying that all my critics who think I suck can’t be wrong. But I was more put in a mind of that conversation with C. and M. Some people are raised to believe that the world is for them, that they can fail and not have missed their one shot, and that they can do whatever they set their minds to, because why not?

But a lot of us were not. And I have always felt like I am getting away with something here, every step of the way. I know I say all the time that talent is ubiquitous. And I believe that. But I also think that a lot of talented people are trained to not take the shot, lest someone more deserving not get the chance to play. And I think a lot of us believe that we must not be that talented, really, because we see so many other talented people.

In other words, really, we’re trained to self-stack the deck against us so that our “betters” don’t have to waste time doing it.

And I certainly have that tendency, myself, ingrained in me since birth, passed off as “pragmatic” and “realistic.” But I’m trying to not let it stand in my way too much.

Anyway, I don’t really know how long this gig will last or what it will become. I’m taking it one piece at a time. But if they ask me, I’m going to say yes.

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2 thoughts on “Confidence

  1. On the one hand, I got ‘play stupid for no one’ and ‘you can be whatever you want’, and on the other, ‘there is always someone better out there, so don’t get arrogant.’ I didn’t do an MFA or a fiction degree because, you know, I needed a real job because artists don’t usually make it. So yeah. TL;DR: I understand this. (And also: yay for the WP op-ed! Fascinating discussion of genre and audience and all of those invisible rules.)

  2. I really liked the piece and you totally deserve to be read more widely. Always thought so. Whenever I feel down about myself I try to remember how many horribly mediocre white men get all kinds of rewards every day. Every reward a woman of any talent whatsoever gets is therefore merely part of balancing a massive deficit.

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