Um, everyone has it.
Basically that’s what I feel like I need to say. And before you ask me what this has to do with theatre or the arts–well, if you’re in theatre or the arts, I’m pretty sure you don’t need to ask me, because probably everyone you know suffers from an existential level of self-doubt on a regular basis.
The key here is remembering that you’re not alone. And, yes, I’m talking to myself here as well as to you. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my own head and think that I’m the only person who understands my fears–of not getting another production soon, of not writing my next masterpiece this exact second, of not constantly seeming cool and wonderful and artistic and nice and de rigueur enough to be the artist everyone wants to work with. (And lest you think that I actually am casually cool/pretentiously intellectual enough to randomly speak in French, let me share that I had to Google how to spell that.)
And then I realize that, well, every playwright I know has the same fears. The ones who seem to be magically perfect at every turn, that’s just because I don’t know them well enough. There has never been a moment–and I know a lot of playwrights–there has never been a moment when we’ve been talking about production or writing or networking and the other person has genuinely been like, “Oh, yeah, that’s all super easy for me. Actually, I’m great at all things.” Usually it’s more like, “Arapdoihasdopgihasdpgokj! I really need to work on my networking! I’m so frazzled about production! I feel like I’m not writing my best right now!” Which should tell me something.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that none of us are good at anything. Actually, I think most of us are probably pretty good at most of the things we pour so much energy and worry into. We’ve sure spent time paying our dues, especially if eating a whole bag of Doritos in anxiety on one’s couch counts as paying one’s dues.
What I’m saying is that everyone doubts themselves, and that it’s not physically possible for all of us to be as awful as we think we are. So the next time you’re freaking out about how incredibly terrible of an artist/person you are, take a breath. Remember: you are an artist-person. That’s what matters.