Cognitive Dissonance

To say that I lack self-confidence is probably an understatement. I have severe doubts about my abilities in most things. People initially mistake it for some sort of sneakiness, like the kid who claims he never studied, yet does so well in his exam. But now, to people close to me, this self-doubt is well-known, and greeted with shrugging of shoulders, rolling of eyes, and a general shaking of the head.

The same goes for my writing. I am continuously chipping away at the tiny hill of confidence I have built up with my successes, and there is always a sense of disbelief, almost detachment, when my writing clicks somehow.

Yesterday, I received my first prize for the Unisun Reliance Time-out short story contest. I also got to meet Shashi Deshpande, an author whose writing I immensely respect. As I stood listening to her praising my story (she was one of the judges), I was (still am) in a state of disbelief. One part of me was listening attentively, but the other part kept nudging me awake, insisting this simply could not be reality. One part of me tried to gather up her words like precious jewels, to savor the treasure later; the other part laughed at my foolish attempt, even as the words floated off, dissolving and disappearing into the invisible.

It will take me a very long time (probably my lifetime) to accept that I’m probably not as bad as I think I am, and that I probably deserve my successes in some way. I guess till then, I will continue my usual one-step-forward-two-steps-back dance on my self confidence. At least that feels real enough!

7 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Dear Ani,

    While it is definitely good that you learn to accept your talent and skill, for your own self esteem, I personally feel there is a disarming charm to your personality because of this very sense of ‘disbelief’, ‘detachment’ that you possess with regard to your success.

    Whatever said and done, may more successes and accolades find their way towards you. Sitting here, as I visualise Shashi Deshapande praising your story I can imagine the gamut of feelings you must have felt- almost like a third person!

    You sure deserve the praise and the prize!
    All the very Best

  2. Ardra, you are bang on! I did feel like an onlooker to the entire scene. Perhaps there were three parts of me then šŸ˜€

    What made the comments from her more precious was that we were talking one-to-one. I was so tongue-tied and was like, I’m so thrilled to meet you, and she was like, Oh I loved your story. After that, it was impossible for me to speak any more, so I just stood there like a daft idiot! šŸ™‚

    Thank you so much for your wishes.

  3. šŸ™‚ That description of your self in sort of a detached way is priceless !

    No need of self doubts Ano ! But sure, be as keen an observer of humans – yourself included ! Thats what makes you sucha fantastic writer i suppose !

  4. I was thinking about you today, when I read the article on The Hindu Literary Awards. I was half expecting your name as the prize winner – it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit šŸ™‚

  5. Thanks Raj. I had never quite thought of it as an advantage, always a handicap. So thanks for giving me a new perspective!

    TM, that is so nice of you! I had no idea about the Hindu Literary Awards. I’ll google it right away šŸ™‚

  6. Congratulations! You’re in The Hindu today! My kids were very impressed when I said I had rubbed shoulders with you.

  7. LOL! Thanks!
    Today I found out which of my friends read the Hindu šŸ˜€
    Do come home again some time with kids.

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