- Paco de Lucia
In February or March I was standing around in the break room at my old job, burning a hole in a big tin cookie jar, when Deanna, one of the co-creative directors, walked in.
"Hi, Angela. Is everything okay?" she said.
Deanna is nice and I have always liked her. But I didn't really want to go into specifics about why I was standing in the break room eating butter cookie after butter cookie while scowling at the Formica, so I said something along the lines of, "Deanna, I'm really sensitive."
She stared for awhile as though trying to work me out. Then,
"Is this personal or work-related?"
"Work." I can't remember what was irking me so much. It could have been any number of things: a recent fight with the COO, an angry client, an unreasonable (or all too reasonable) blog comment...
Deanna tilted her head and kept staring. It's possible that I stopped eating cookies at this point. It's hard to say.
"You know," she began slowly, "it's hard to be young and have a lot of responsibilities at work."
"Uh huh," I said. This was somewhat flattering and I was already starting to cheer up. God, I'm such a sucker.
"But," she continued, just as slowly, "you get to a point."
"What kind of a point?"
"You get to a point where it doesn't matter what other people say and what other people think of you, because you know what you can do, and you're confident in your skill."
"When did you get there?" I said, pressing insufferably even though I could feel us veering into Wonder Years territory.
Deanna smiled in a manner most motherly. "I think I was in my 30s," she said.
That seemed like a very long wait.
She started walking off. "If you want to talk about it more, come by my desk," she added. She stopped to hug me, then left me alone with the cookies and the godforsaken coffee, which was burning in its gurgly machine.
I have thought about that conversation a lot since then. Reading Chuck Klosterman's IV added to the discourse inside my head. There's a kind of arrogance you possess when you're young and bright. The arrogance isn't quite made up of confidence; it's made more of a desperate desire to prove to everybody you meet that you're somebody.
It's another telltale sign that you haven't yet become confident in your skill.
How do you break out of that? How do you get confident in your hands and your head? How do you stop sucking on every word the critics and the flatterers say?
Do you have to wait for it, like puberty?