It is comforting to know most artists suffer from self-doubt. Typically it’s 2 a.m. when I think I’ve wasted years writing something that will never see the light of day. Three choices then await: let it go, strive for perfection, or muddle through with passion and confidence, even if you have to fake it. I recommend the latter. Some days may required a 90/10 ratio of faking, however. (Think Meg Ryan’s diner orgasm.)
When I got my first job in the big city, I said to my husband, “I can’t believe they hired me. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s only a matter of time before they realize I’m a total fraud.” I said this for the first three months and every night he said the same thing, “I don’t know what I’m doing either. Just fake it. You do anything with enough passion and confidence, people will never know.”
Not only did they not know, they promoted me. Suckers!
His passion and confidence speech soon became a family motto. He began dispensing this pearl of wisdom to anyone who would listen.
Our nephew got an extremely bad haircut years ago after not being able to outrun his mother with her new electric shaver. They live on a ranch, 45 minutes away from a barber, so my sister-in-law is very resourceful. (I’ll let the italics make other implications.) It was the Dumb and Dumber haircut on crack, so naturally he was quite upset. “Passion and confidence,” my husband swooped in to bellow. “Go into school with your head held high and if anyone gives you grief, you tell them that haircut was your intention. If you believe it, they will too.”
Now if this were a fictional piece, I’d say he got his ass kicked. But damn if it didn’t work! You just can’t make this crap up! I have to believe that being a cowboy with a hat helped him save face (cowboys invent the cock-and-bull line of thinking), but over the next few days, he said a couple kids came to school with the same shitty haircut after he boasted about his intentions. Maybe their mother’s were resourceful, too. Who knows. But it’s been a story that gets told at the ranch as legend. Our nephew started a trend, and he’s still getting by on passion and confidence. At 5’9, 170 lbs., he’s playing football with guys twice his size, and bulldogging in the rodeos.
You have to tap into that boldness of youth. There’s a reason my son reaches for the Swagger line of Old Spice. Only punk kids can pull off that teen-spirit smell; it repels grownups, while masking fears, and the foul stink of hormones and insecurities.
Come to think of it — isn’t that the real definition of swagger?