Deep Thoughts

Is it better to have talent but think you don't, or to not have talent but think you do?

Obviously, it would be best for all concerned if those who have talent know it, and those who don't also know it. But watching American Idol, following the vanity press and fan fic arguments on Lee Goldberg's blog, and seeing a rise in the belief that wanting something really a lot means you deserve to get it, lead me to believe that there are a tremendous number of people out there who are completely unaware that they are totally devoid of talent. Who are shocked, outraged and defiant when told this is the case. People who are so convinced of their own abilities that no one, no matter what their credentials, will ever convince them they're not the Next Big Thing. People who will spend years and thousands of dollars trying to prove that their critics are wrong*.

In a way, I kind of admire these deluded souls. The ability to completely and unreservedly believe in oneself in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary must be pretty amazing. A little scary to the rest of us, perhaps, but imagine what it must feel like to know you're right, you're gifted, you're an incredible, if misunderstood, talent. Sure, it's a little frustrating when no one else agrees with you, but you can write them off as idiots and carry on in your own little universe.

I often think it would be easier to be like that than to have a genuine ability and not believe in it, or yourself. Like me. If I think about it rationally, I know I'm pretty good at a fair number of things. But I don't think I'm good enough at anything. Which kind of sucks, since I'm probably better than a lot of the people who think they're experts. But I don't have their faith, their conviction.

Most days, I'd be happy to trade a little talent for some of that self confidence.

*When their critics are, in fact, totally correct.