A funny thing happens when you don’t believe in yourself. Others won’t believe in you either, and then all the doors that were once open to you are now closed. And who closed them? You did.
Another funny thing is that self-confidence has absolutely nothing to do with your actual skill level. While it is easy to think that there is a direct correlation between the two, there really isn’t. Though it is definitely common to see talented people with a great sense of self-confidence, there are still plenty of other talented people who have a great lack of self-confidence.
A lack of self-confidence can come from within, but most often it comes from our upbringing and our surroundings, which we then internalize. Were people supportive of your endeavors? Or were you left alone to figure things out yourself? Were your achievements rewarded? Or did people barely even notice? If there was no trust and support, you start to believe that this is normal. It is normal for people to not be supportive of your endeavors. It is normal for people not to notice your achievements … And then you begin the slow process of closing yourself off.
You no longer seek support. You no longer invite people to your exhibits, performances or even a school graduation. Then again, you continue working, you get better and better, and one day people start to notice and compliment you. But by then it’s too late. You’ve become numb to the pain of having to traverse this journey alone, and therefore you’ve also become numb to the fruits of your labor.
People start requesting to work with you. They tell you they’re fans of your work and want to collaborate with you. But you say no. You keep saying no and, in a way, it’s retribution for all the sleepless nights you had to spend alone working on your craft with no one there to even say a simple, “Good job.”
“Oh, now you want me?!” A natural response. I completely understand. I even think you should stay in that zone for bit; not just to get it out of your system, but specifically so that you can experience how much lonelier it can be at the top. You thought it was rough before? Think again.
You need those open doors, and you need to walk in.
Enough with the self-pity. We know; nobody believed in you back then, but now they do. Enjoy it. And if you can’t, learn to enjoy it.
What’s worse than being a person of no skill that nobody notices? Being a person of great talent that everybody adores but nobody dares to confront because you don’t believe in yourself. Heck, if that’s the case, you mind as well be an asshole! But you’re not. You’re a nice person. Everybody loves you. Let them love you. Learn to accept love again despite never having received it before.
Walk through the door. One door will lead to the next … And sooner or later you’ll realize that there has always been someone supportive by your side. You just had to find them.
In other words, you have to be your own biggest fan before others can be a fan of you.
by Jason Lam