My confidence wanes and rises like the tide, a constant shifting liquid that becomes over abundant only to recede and reveal the shallow muck of a newly exposed shoreline. I am perhaps a neurotic person.
I recall talking with a girl when I was 22 and giving her my brief life story: I had just graduated from Stanford and was working in online media for a television station while also interning at an internet startup. And you? I asked. She sheepishly told me she worked as a waitress… and, she added, was thinking of taking some classes at the community college. It hadn’t occurred to me that despite having no money, I was already white collar. I had jumped a rung on the ladder without noticing. And I felt guilty for making her feel like her waitressing was an admission of being beneath me. I felt like an ass. “That’s nice…”
I use the term neurotic quite broadly. I mean to refer to the stubborn idiosyncratic tendencies, social anxiety, and general awkwardness that is contradictorily matched with an uncompromising confidence of character that informs my personality. As the years pass and the layers of bark grow thicker, all of that nervousness and self-consciousness does fade—but still at the center is that young, delicate sapling, the remnants of childhood and teenage years that form the basis of one’s character. I was quite a loser in high school, to oversimplify it, and as such I will always be that loser at the base of my intuition, the core of my personality, regardless of the ever growing layers of experience. I was, however, a successful loser.
Naturally the Groucho Marx joke rings true: I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. I think the same sentiment is threaded throughout Scott Fitzgerald’s work as well: romanticists tirelessly pining for all the love and decadence in the world, and never finding satisfaction because their desires exist only as a dream of what may lay beyond the horizon, the possibility of a reality that is not there. Measured against the dream, nothing will ever be good enough. How terribly sullen.
I recall meeting a girl for drinks one night. The anticipation, naturally, was by far the sweetest wine in what seemed like a romantic tryst. After spending merely a few minutes with her, however, I was already bored with her plain personality and spent the remainder of the evening trying to be polite as she agreed with everything I said and laughed at my jokes without hearing them. Poor thing to face my unreasonableness–doing everything she could to be liked, and me, so easily and judgmentally dismissing her as not being interesting enough. I felt like an ass for wanting better. Naturally the only girl for me is one that deserves much better than my company. “That’s nice…”
As the tide washes out I better bring this to a head. I quit my job last year because it became plain and uninteresting and no longer kindled my curiosity. Living somewhat ascetically has afforded me some time while I try to find a new path forward, though paying the rent from my savings becomes increasingly painful every month. Ostensibly I came to Los Angeles because I enjoy screenwriting; I am oddly confident that I will find success within, say, twenty years. I’m not worried about that. What will fill my next twenty weeks, however, is quite naturally terrifying because you can only reside for so long in a life raft.
But quite naturally, I have deep wells of confidence and worry, like a shivering pocket Chihuahua yip-yip-yipping at a Great Dane.