I recognize this disconnect in myself. For instance, I know I am a good teacher and a good poet, but my lack of educational credentials is a major source of inner anxiety. As soon as other writers start chatting about their MFA programs, famous mentors and pals, etc., I fall down a hole and begin beating myself up as inconsequential, unknown, provincial, and so on and so on. Someone will yank me up out of that hole and slap me around a little, and, dazed, I'll look at her and say, "Oh. Okay. I'm fine, then." But next chance I get, I'll fall straight down the hole again. It's stupid, just like it's stupid (and I use the word in the nicest possible way) that my correspondent downplays his own inimitable gifts.
We all have our little hamster problems, and I'm tired of them. I want my friend to honor and publicize his necessary gifts. I want other friends to do the same. This world needs to hear from you all. Likewise, I want to kick my own self-loathing to the curb. I mean, what the hell? I would never judge anyone else by their diploma. So why can't I give myself the same permission?
Earlier this week I posted about the way in which, as a teacher, I try to recognize my deficiencies, try to model that recognition, try address the process of working through the ways in which I hamstring myself. I think that so many of the people I love and admire are devotees of humility. But humility is double-edged. It keeps us open and loving, but it also keeps us from throwing back our shoulders and striding into the world we long to inhabit.