I like these challenges because they’re…well…challenging.
My instant response to Confidence was, Oh yes, that’s that nice thing that other people have and I don’t. Hardly your riveting answer, though, is it, so I thought some more, and the result was quite surprising.
Despite being the least conceited and self-important man you could hope to meet, my father was nevertheless a person of some eminence, one way and another, and my parents were often called upon to entertain the (at least temporarily) great, the (mostly) good and the always intelligent (although often devoid of even a vestige of commonsense). As a result, we learned early to be well-behaved and mute, intelligent and articulate or unseen powerhouses of super-efficiency, as the need arose.
So as I got older – throw me a role and confidence rises like a tide obeying the moon. Stage management, even when the revolve sticks? Bring it on. Business administration? No problem. And as for crisis management – well, it’s one of my better talents, really. And so it should be, with all the practice I’ve had. Deal first, panic later.
But me without a role is different – not to say pathetic. Because I also had it drummed in early (but NOT from my parents) that I was stupid, a boring nuisance, surplus to requirements and had nothing to offer my peers. In fact it was better all round if I kept quiet and disappeared. Not exactly guaranteed to have you out there being a barrel of laughs, top of the pops and generally voted most confident.
The thing I regret most about this is that it also applied to my writing – part of me, and therefore by definition stupid and boring. Maybe it wouldn’t have been if I’d given it a chance. But I’ll never know, and regretting it now would be pretty pointless.
It’s like crisis management: deal first, panic later. By which time it’s all over, and the moment for panic has been and gone.