3.25.2004

I have low self-esteem. I don't find myself particularly talented, capable and often feel qute the opposite. I'm in the middle of writing a book and it pains me to read what I write. Quite frankly, I suck. This low tide of self-worth might seem at odds with my persona which most people would characterize as extroverted but clearly the two are not mutually exclusive. It also goes against the grain of my membership in a professional improv troupe. Being able to get up onstage and perform appears to require a reasonable amount of self-esteem. After all, you're putting yourself out there to be viewed and assuming it's worth watching.

The missing ingredient in all this is confidence. I have high confidence. Despite what I believe to be a total waste of other people's time, I have confidence that maybe something good can come from what I do even though I know it is unlikely to come from me. I am willing to go bravely into the gaping maw of failure and, occasionally, against all odds, snatch a hint of fleeting competence. Confidence is the willingness to fail whereas low self-esteem indicates that I surely will.

I know a woman with high self-esteem and low confidence. She's a good-looking lady who knows it but is frightened that someone might find her unattractive. I find this to be a worse curse than mine. Imagine feeling capable of success, in fact feeling that it is deserved or earned in some small measure but, at the same time, living in fear that you might not achieve it. A paranoia that you won't get your due. The inevitable disappointment would be unbearable to me. Which might explain my personality (which also begs the question: how much control do we have over our personality?).

Of course there are people with with low self-esteem and low confidence. That's tough. Thinking that you will fail and fearing that failure. Too paralyzing for me. Life's too short for that kind of self-censorship. Then there's high confidence, high self-esteem. People like me call people like that arrogant or deluded. But they're out there. I think it takes a certain measure of that brash, cocky attitude to forge a path for yourself in life. I'm sure we aren't always one of these types. Over time, we each experience all four of these combinations (at least, I do and most people I know go through them in some form or another). But we invariably tend to return to one or another of these types as a kind of natural state, the one where we feel most comfortable.

Whatever drives us through each day from waking to sleep, it's certainly made of a bizarre and all-too-human material.