For as long as I can remember the fastest way for another human being to make me not like them was to demonstrate an unearned confidence. Ever met that guy? I use the word, ‘guy,’ because in my experience they have been overwhelmingly male. Maybe 90/10 in favor of men more than women if I were to guess.
That guy is always talking about his next big thing. ‘Bro, that business I invested in is about to blow up!’ ‘Dude, I’m gonna make this sick film. There’s gonna be vampires and aliens and elves and shit.’ ‘Oh yeah. I’m gonna hook up with that chick over that tonight.’ Etc. These guys talk about everything they’re going to do as if it were a forgone conclusion.
Bragging is generally something I don’t love to begin with. But to brag about something you have not yet done when you’ve displayed no previous pattern of ever doing anything big like it before – it feels so fake to me. Kind of like cheating.
The bragging is something you need to earn, damn it! You can’t just brag about running a marathon in the future. I’ll be the first to congratulate you after you cross the finish line, but until then I remain skeptical. And turned off from any desire to spend time with you in any social context.
However, it’s entirely possible that my severe reaction to this otherwise harmless behavior may have deeper roots than simple distaste. Why did I care so much about what other people did? I never quite knew. But lately, I’ve thought about it some and come to a potential realization:
I think I have to become like those guys in order to improve myself.
What do I mean? I mean, I think I’m going to have to talk about big future projects as if it’s a forgone conclusion – that they are absolutely going to happen. Talking about future projects much at all is something I try not to do very often anymore. I don’t talk about them much, because there is a fear in the back of my mind that constantly whispers, ‘What if you can’t do it?’
The fear of not accomplishing things makes me not want to tell too many people, because I don’t want to have the conversation later when they ask me about it and I am forced to report that I failed. Hard not to blame me on this one. Those conversations suck.
‘Hey Rich! How’s that crime novel coming you started in college?’
‘Uh…I…Never finished it actually.’
But I have been on a journey of self improvement for a few years now. And while I have seen gains, I’m by no means where I want to be yet. So, I need to keep changing things up. And one thing I am going to change starting now is that I will no longer keep projects secret because I’m afraid I’ll fail. Maybe I will fail. Maybe I’ll fail 10,000 more times. Fine. Then I’ll have those conversations, but they’ll go differently.
‘Hey Rich! How’s that book on improv you’ve been talking about for years?’
‘Not done yet. I wasn’t quite ready to finish it in my early thirties. Needed to learn some life lessons first. But now I’m back at it. Looking at a Summer release this year. Fingers crossed.’
It’s not about ‘not failing.’ It’s about not being afraid of failure and continuing to push past it.
I think I need to start talking about future projects more, because it helps me to feel like I’m being held accountable. Just because I’ll be able to handle those conversations better does not mean I look forward to them. Telling more people about the book I’m going to publish means I’ll avoid more and more of those talks if I finish the damn thing like I said I would.
In regards to being like ‘those guys’ there are a couple of caveats:
1. I would never intentionally ‘brag.’
My purpose and intention for needing to talk about future projects is entirely different. So, I will be attempting to speak of them more matter of factly than pridefully.
2. I would not attempt to bring it up in every conversation.
I always got the feeling that most of those guys sat perched in conversation sniper nests ready at any pause to bring up their big deal accomplishments-to-be. That won’t be me. My goal isn’t to bring it up as often as possible, but rather to not actively veer away from it whenever I’m asked what I’m up to.
So, in the spirit of this, I will publish my book on improv by my birthday (July). That’s my goal. I feel good about it. Also, scared. But I’m just gonna try to push through that.