When it comes to a lack of confidence, you’re not alone. Episode 23 of My Love Story! was a stellar example about how self-doubt can happen to even our favorite characters. If you haven’t watched yet, you might want to skip on this post (and if you want a premium Crunchyroll pass to watch it, email me and I’ll send you one).
In this episode, Takeo discovered he had a rival for his girlfriend Rinko’s affections. Another guy literally stops Takeo on the street and tells him that Takeo isn’t as good a fit for Rinko as he would be. And since Takeo doesn’t know anything about Rinko’s hobby, cake baking, and this guy does, he thinks maybe the guy has a point.
There’s a dramatic irony here because we audience members know that Rinko’s affections have never wavered. Takeo’s real enemy here is his own confidence. It’s a clear example of Imposter Syndrome, where Takeo doubts whether he deserves his good fortune. He thinks he’s just gotten lucky, when we know that his own actions are what make Rinko love him.
It’s easy to go, “Really Takeo? You think you’re a bad boyfriend because you can’t bake pastries?” but this is exactly how the unconfident brain attempts to rationalize. How many times have you felt unconfident about your assertions because of some anxious thought? Your story idea was rejected = you’re a terrible writer who will never hold down a job. A commenter disagrees with you = all of your opinions are terrible and wrong.
In my latest newsletter, I posed the following question to my followers: What would make you feel more confident about sharing your work online? I got some pretty legitimate concerns, and I’m going to try to address them here.
I’m worried I don’t have enough expertise.
Of all the responses I got, I relate to this one the most.
Take my work as a front-end developer. When clients are happy with my work, I assume they don’t know enough about site building to criticize my faults. Instead, I give tons of credence to commenters on the Internet, who have responded to my tutorials for building web servers and apps with stuff like, “Do you even know how to use a computer?” And that’s not even fair—I’ve had way more good comments than bad ones. I gravitate to negative comments because they reinforce the voice in my brain that is always telling me that I suck.
I use development as an example here instead of writing because I have no formal training as a developer. I constantly feel like everyone is better than me. I recently told a friend, “I bet you think my code is sloppy,” and he replied, “I wouldn’t know, you’ve been coding way longer than I have.” The point is that even though I’m always learning more, I’m already a relative expert.
It’s actually healthy to doubt yourself a little. What’s dangerous is when you’re 100% confident in your abilities, because that means you’re not considering what you don’t know. If you have enough knowledge to realize you could be doing better, you’re on the right track.
I’m worried I will be harassed.
This is an extremely legitimate concern on the Internet as it is today. There’s an environment of hostility against content creators. For example, it used to be that when there was an error in one of my stories, people would say “X is incorrect.” Now they say, “You lied about X,” assuming malice over a simple mistake.
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by assuming you mistake legitimate critique (error corrections and differing opinions) for harassment (threatening language, personal attacks). The former is not only unavoidable, but it will make you a better reporter. This sort of interaction can be intimidating at first, but learning to deal with it will help you develop a healthy thicker skin.
Meanwhile, harassment is completely uncalled for and you never deserve it. While it’s true that the only way to avoid harassment (in the form of unsolicited emails, tweets, and phone calls) is to not post anything at all, there are ways to make yourself less of a target. Use evidence to back up any assertions or opinions you post. I believe it’s good to make your audience emotional, but don’t make them angry for no good reason, especially if that’s not your intention. Share an article with friends before posting to look for any red flags.
If you do incite attention, check that you’re using strong passwords and two-factor identification to lock down your Internet presence. Most importantly, do not try to justify yourself by replying to any harassing messages. They’re just looking to get a reaction out of you.
I’m worried nobody will care.
Here’s a concern on the opposite side of the spectrum—that you’ll put something out there and nobody will read it at all! Actually, that was my reality for the first couple months of this blog. My only commenter was my husband. Look and see.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. The internet is a big place and chances are that if it’s your first attempt at putting up a blog, it’ll take a while for your readers to find it. You can help them along by posting your articles on social media. Don’t spam them, but sometimes I find that people don’t see my link the first time, so I usually link to my posts twice in a couple days. Definitely send your posts to me, too, so I can consider them for Otaku Links!
Think about it this way: is anybody going to care about your work if you keep it to yourself? Didn’t think so. Sharing can be scary, but it’s the only way to take that first step.
Thanks to everyone who replied to my newsletter and was brave enough to share one of their fears with me. My newsletter community is awesome, and we’d love to have you there, too.
Screenshot via My love story!