Do you ever feel like everyone else is smarter and more mature than you? I did, and still do. At 55 I’m still wondering what I’m going to be when I “grow up”. I was a shy kid in school, introverted and reflective. I read a lot, and I hung out with other eggheads, and actually carried a Samsonite briefcase for some period of time in middle school. (It’s amazing I wasn’t stuffed into a locker…) I probably would have been one of those lonely guys in the comic books stores, except that I never got into comics because they were so short. I wanted to read the 1000 page epics with complex cultures and elaborate back stories. The Lord of the Rings captivated me in the 70’s, and I’ve been in awe of the scale of Tolkien’s creation ever since.
I was (and still am) shy around girls. They all seemed to share some secret of the universe that I couldn’t fathom. I was slow to date, and I was shocked to find out that anyone knew who I was, much less liked me. My dad said once that I wouldn’t ask a girl out unless I had a written guarantee that she was going to like me and the date was going to go well. I scoffed at the time, but it’s probably one of the most perceptive things he said.
I had voices in my head, and they weren’t friendly.
“This isn’t working, you might as well give up.”
“You can’t draw, that looks like crap.”
“Nobody cares about this, it’s not worth doing.”
“He’s so much more talented than you are.”
“Why didn’t you think of that…she’s so creative!”
Self awareness, an understanding of your individual strengths and weaknesses, is a good thing, but not when it cripples you. If you’re doubting your abilities, and waiting for assurances that your work will be welcomed, and not even willing to start until you know it will be good, then you’re never going to get it done. We all have doubts and fears, but when those fears prevent us from engaging, from speaking up, or writing, or asking someone out, then we miss out on opportunities.
There are no guaranteed successes, but if you wait until you’re good enough, or prepared enough, or the “time is right”, then you’re never going to put your work out there. And that guarantees failure.