If confidence is lost, did you ever really have it?
Friday, April 23rd, 9:31 pm. I’m sitting on my couch, on the phone with my mom for the third time in one day.
Me: “Do you remember when I was little?”
Mom: “Of course I do.”
Me: “Tell me your favorite memory.”
Mom: “Oh here we go again.”
Me: (laughs) “Come on, tell me something funny I did as a kid!”
Mom: “I don’t know. I can’t think right now. You woke me up.”
Me: “Sorry. (pause) Do you remember when I used to put shit in your bed?”
Mom: (quietly exasperated) “What?! No.”
Me: “I cannot believe you don’t remember this. Whenever I was mad at you I’d put potpourri in your pillow case and under your sheets so it would poke you and make your bed smell.”
Mom: “I probably liked it.”
Me: “You’re crazy. Go back to bed.”
You know things are bad when you call your mom for a mood lift. There are so many things wrong with this. For starters, moms are meant to annoy. No matter how much I resent her self-help b.s., she somehow always convinces me to drink the Kool-Aid. Tell her you don’t want any and she’ll give it to you anyway.
Secondly, moms are blinded by bias. Of course she’s going to tell you you’re qualified to be an editor-in-chief at 29 even though the closest experience you have for this job comes from bossing around your stuffed animals and dolls from ages five to 11. Or 12.
Lastly, moms are bad with the tough love. When my mom tries to tell me to suck things up, I just want to put potpourri in her bed again. I demand my bottle, my bath and my bedtime story please.
So clearly my mom can never win (as her daughter, it’s my job to set her up to fail), but I still love her and this is all beside the point. The point here is that I’m so desperate for a confidence fix that I’m searching between the couch cushions for it.
How did this happen? I’m the girl who’s famous for the line “clankity clank,” which is short for “pull out your brass balls and fight for your right.” Let those mo-fos in charge know who you are.
And here I am. Stuck. In my own mud. Sure, I can blame getting laid off a year ago. I can blame my current mind-numbing job. I can blame myself and I often do. There are plenty of culprits in the lineup for confidence robbery. But at a certain point, I need to pull out of this mental quicksand and pull out my brass cojones. If there’s one thing my mom’s personal PSAs have taught me it’s think it and you’ll be it. But how can you believe in your talent without the success?
I know, pray to Buddha, right? It’s not all about the material recognition. Fuck that. Look, I’ve prayed to Buddha and Jesus, to Rolling Stone and Fleetwood Mac. I’ve paid for therapy and medication and opened myself up to love. I’ve given up security for the chance of something better. And the only thing I can tell you is that in America, success matters. It’s measurable. And I want it. But first, I need my confidence back.
Never stop writing, your good and funny; it’s hard to be both!
I know where you’re coming from–I’ve been there, hell I’m still there and I can tell you that your lack of confidence comes from the Elpheba character you’re working for right now. 🙂 You are awesome, you are a rock star, and SHE IS NOT. Do not let her toxicity eat away at your confidence–that’s B.S.
Write something for the sheer pleasure of it. Write something assuming no one will ever ready it, it will never see the light of day. Write free-form, whatever spills out of your brain at 2 a.m. Doesn’t matter. Reconned with the fun of it. Remember that writing is a job you do for the fun of it that also happens to pay the bills and FUCK those who don’t get it.
You are awesome, you are a rock star, you are an AMAZING writer. And you are also in the wrong job. It’s draining your confidence because it doesn’t challenge you or even make use of 1% of your abilities. When you spend so much time doing work that, honestly, should be given to an intern, it’s no surprise to start believing that you are no better than that. Until the place gets running like a real content dept (which is never going to happen), your job will never change. Keep writing on your own, but more importantly, get your ass in gear and start working on your exit strategy. Maybe it’s another job—or another paying writing gig you get on the side or a book or some meaty side project that helps you move toward another job—but that is your challenge, that’s where you’ll find your confidence. I promise you that life on the outside is better. It might not be all chocolate-coated rays of sunshine, but it will get you out of the soul-sucking vortex you’re in now. And you will surprise only yourself when you accomplish this because the rest of us KNOW how amazingly talented you are.
Um… this is my brain, spilled out onto your blog. Even though I have a feeling that this post is telling me “it’s not gonna get any better, trust me” – it also kinda makes me feel like maybe things aren’t as bad as I think… if only because your words are reassuring me that I’m not alone in this.
I’m 62. I did not know what (or who) I wanted to be when I grew up. Still haven’t a clue. I think I thought that the answer would become obvious as I aged. In the meantime….sex, drugs and rock n roll would fill in the emptiness. I put off growing up….was I having too much fun?….no…..just hadn’t figured out what to do. Met a guy even more steeped in indecision. He really needed me. I thought he did. His parents thought I was an angel come down from heaven. They needed me and they were sure their son needed me. I was 29. I thought being needed sounded like a good thing. I asked his mother ‘wasn’t I a little too young ?’. We (he and I) got married Well, I should have just adopted them all instead of marrying them. That was 33 years ago. The married part of marriage ended about 30 years ago (I am not referring to just the sex…..also the friendship, companionship, whatever else is supposed to be components of marriage and loovvvvee). I am still married. I lost (apparently irretrievably) my cojones (virtual ones) very soon after my 30th birthday. I am 62. I do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I have never found my passion. You have. You have known most of your life what your passion is and you are still working hard to be able to do it and give yourself the joy of knowing you are doing your best work. You also want the respect of peers (and the corner office with real walls to prove it). Part of that is surely doable – maybe not the office part. But you certainly can write…..you can just write so damned hard that I had to write – and this is the first time ever I have ever ever wrtten to anyone’s blog or editorial for any reason. I am the one with no cojones and YOU are the one who just needs to get your butt kicked out the door of that loser job because you are not a loser and those people who only desire that corner office will never understand someone who knows and CAN DO their passion. They will never give you a chance because they believe that allowing you to deliver their mail/coffee/fact check is giving you a chance. Jimmy Olson never grew up. His entire newspaper career was spent following around Clark Kent. He was never going to grow up and be Clark Kent. Ah, and then there’s the pitiful Lois Lane. Someone above said ‘get away – go write stories about everything, anything’ don’t let the mediocre rule you. Get a cheaper car, a smaller apartment, a camper/travel trailer and be of no fixed address (the easier to spy out future topics and subjects) and owner of a big dog (get a Golden Retriever – large, can be noisy and thus a deterrence to unwelcome skulkers, while actually being the most faithful and loving companion). Get out and write and experience something else than rock n roll. Write about lonely. confused, write about great dogs you have known or disgusting ones you have dated. Write about a girl you know well who has finally awakened and decided to grow up and be a woman who takes charge of her life and stops waiting for Prince Editor-in-Chief to notice her true worth. I read others of your blogs than just this one, but this cracked me open and made me want to be you so bad. If I had known what I wanted and had half your talent ‘I could have been a contender’. You are already. So put up your fists already……..