Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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January 2, 2012 |
I'm pretty good at what I do. I've had some pretty good professional recognition. But after a few career setbacks, I have completely lost my confidence.
I continue to work as hard as I can; but I have a terrible time convincing anyone -- myself most of all -- of the value of that work.
You face the blank page, you face a live audience, you face a lot of situations that require a confidence that I can't seem to find anymore. Where do you find yours?
It's all an act, Don. You conceal your insecurity from other people and eventually you learn to conceal it from yourself, but of course it never goes away. And it's never what I'd call "confidence". I've met some very confident people and found them insufferable. Arrogant. Insensitive. Bullies. I can imagine how painful it must be to suffer setbacks, though it's hard to advise you without knowing what those setbacks are. You might consider giving yourself a challenge that lies outside your professional life ----- riding a bike across the state of Iowa, learning Spanish, writing a family history, knitting a scarf ----- just as an exercise to prove to yourself that you have a reservoir of potential. You might consider looking for a support group ---- surely there is one relevant to your needs. Some dilemmas lie outside the realm of therapy but can be ameliorated by kindred souls. But what you describe as a loss of confidence may also be a life change that one accepts and learns to work around. I have pretty much lost my confidence at golf and tennis and don't expect to recover them. I do not have confidence in my ability to write a long novel anymore and that's just a fact, and I don't expect to regain it, and why should I agonize over it? I have confidence that I can write a full-length play, though I've never done it and may not succeed: ignorance can be a friend. Maybe you know too much. Try naivete.