Yesterday, while stupidly making the mistake of engaging with a known troll – yeah, I know, don’t judge me, we’ve all been there, and huge thanks at this point for all the supportive messages that flooded my inbox all evening – while marveling at the apparent confidence with which that person cherry-picked the crumbs to support their own horrible confirmations from a statement that in its entirety conveyed the exact opposite, I once again realized that people who display not a smidgen of self-doubt seriously scare me. By which I don’t mean that I’m frightened of them, but as a person mired in self-doubt more often than not, I simply can’t relate, and I also believe in the necessity of that particular emotion.
I’m not talking about the crippling kind of self-doubt, the paralyzing conviction of your own insufficiency, the certainty of a failure so profund, it will keep you from creating anything at all. I don’t think anyone needs to discuss how that kind of self-doubt is unhealthy.
Fact is, doubt, as a whole, isn’t necessarily negative. Just take the simple sentence “I doubt this is a good idea.” That sentence surely prevented more than one enterprise, invention or other endeavor. But I bet it has also saved countless lives.
If we translate all that to self-doubt, the result is this: Self-doubt makes us question ourselves. It enables us to change, to improve. It makes us consider ourselves from various angles, which ultimately opens the door to empathy. If I perceive myself as the pinnacle of creation, immune to faultiness, other opinions will be meaningless to me, or worse, without basic rights. Sympathy, understanding, or even simple appreciation of diversity, will be beyond me. I will regard anything as beneath me, and nothing will interest me.
That’s what scares me.
I wish you all a healthy dose of self-doubt.