Saturday, November 14, 2015

The “C” Word


For some writers, myself included, fessing-up to having it feels sinful. It’s as if “thou shalt not swagger” is etched on a tablet somewhere sandy and, should we defy the commandment, our talent will disappear, our readers will refuse us, locusts will rain down from a blood-red sky, etc.

Thank goodness all that is bullshit, right? Because my series on confidence was super fun!! I delighted in reading Erin, Rebecca, Jackson, RL and Alana’s answers to my question “Where does your confidence come from?” Each writer travelled a different path to get to the answer, some taking more scenic routes than others. And I get it; it’s a tough question. But why? Because it’s damn-near impossible to look at ourselves objectively? Or because the answer is inherently Gaga-esque -- because, baby, we were born this way?

Many scientific studies do, in fact, suggest that self-confidence is genetic and that the environment around us has only a negligible influence. (Like this one and this one and this one.) Despite what my former math teacher Mr. Deussing may think, I have a scientific mind, so this genetic explanation makes perfect sense to me. I also believe this because, growing up, had I not had a natural inclination for self-confidence, the outside world was certainly not going to give it to me. (I struggled in school and had a face full of acne long before the ravages of puberty—with no exceptional charms to make up for it.) 

HOWEVER, because not even science has the confidence to make wholly self-assured claims, most authors of these "pro-nature" studies are careful to point out that “a genetic legacy of self-confidence merely opens up many possible futures.” Which means there’s a little room for nurture after all.

So, with genetics aside, where does my confidence come from?

That's easy. I can point to it. Literally. Like on a map.

As you can see, my teen years were very Agrestic-like.
Also, wtf is up with those six pools in row up there??!! 

Colonel By Secondary School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Specifically, the gymnasium. My confidence—the malleable element of it—developed from playing volleyball thereI sucked at first. But eventually, with hard work and time and exceptional coaching from Kerry MacLean, I scored points, I made serves, I memorized plays. I became objectively, measurably good at it. 

That's me under the red arrow and in the socks/flip flops.
(Can you say never-been-kissed-until-20-years-old much?)
And omg remember tearaway pants?!

If you’re going for a career as a writer, I think it’s invaluable to have been good at something that can be objectively measured first. Because getting good at something subjective is incredibly painful. Even if I write a novel that I think is good, millions of other people could hate it and tell me so, loudly, in public forums. 

I could never have built up my extra cushion of self-esteem by writing alone. If I put all my energy into novels as a teen and never played sports, I seriously doubt I would have had the confidence to move out of my parents' house or lose my virginity, never mind write a book!

Anyways, it's all very complicated, so here's a graph:

In your face, Mr. Deussing! 

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