Long have I said, long have I known, that I cannot judge my own confidence. I mistake my confidence for arrogance, every time. When I think I’m being confident, I am often being an arrogant jerk. So I stay away from my own confidence so that I can stay away from my own arrogance. Can’t stand my own arrogance.
For years, that has meant not just being humble, not just knowing humility, but often humiliating myself and feeling humiliated. Good times. Some of this is learned behavior, picked up in school and exacerbated by an old job I held that was so psychically taxing and demoralizing that a therapist diagnosed me with PTSD afterward. Some of this is philosophical. I want to be nice to people and I’m nicer when I don’t let my head get too big.
Sometime around my last birthday, though, I realized something strange. I am a grown human. And I am running out of time to get done the stuff I want to get done.
So, without giving up on childish things, I’ve been endeavoring to add some new thinking to myself. I’m not trying to replace my humility or deny my failings, I’m just trying to add some strengths to my repertoire. I want to a better me.
When I released Always/Never/Now, I held back on producing some of the physical rewards because I wanted those keepsakes to be worthy and I was sure that I would get a slew of notes (and hateful comments) and corrections to make to the product before I had something worth assembling for print. I was still waiting for permission, not to make the thing I wanted but to feel good about it, to have made the thing at all.
When I released the beta for Odyssey, I expected an agonizing silence or a flurry of notes and emails about how the game was doing something wrong — or not doing some correctly enough. I winced when I send it out to funders because I was expecting … something bad. What I heard about instead were typos and enthusiasm for the final book.
Can you imagine how much time I’ve lost to self-imposed setbacks and hesitating steps and backpedaling? I was not a grown human, I was a shivering whippet. (Credit to Shane Nickerson for that metaphor.)
Thanks to some stellar friends and family (for example), I’m trying a different tactic this year.
With my new game, Dark, I’m setting out to realize something I’m passionate about and make it great. I’ve been playtesting it for several years, through several iterations, and a lot of players have told me they like it. I’m taking strength from that. I like it, too, and I’m taking strength from that as well.
Seeing the response to the idea of the game? It’s an incredible feeling. I’m hopeful that people will like it even more as I reveal more and more about the game in the coming weeks.
Some may hate it. Some may be turned off by its execution or its game worlds or by me and my mustache. All that is fine. I’m making it anyway, because I know it’s good and what I think matters, too.
I’m not asking for permission. I’m asking for help to make this thing real, not just for me. And, thanks to so many of you, it’s happening for reals.
I don’t know if this is confidence or what. But you know what?