Confessions of an Insecure Reader

I’m insecure about my art.

I’m insecure about my opinions of others’ art.

I have to know exactly what I think and why. I must be able to intelligently and articulately defend my beliefs and opinions. That is the measure of me — if not my worth, then my mind.

I’d like to think that I have a sensible head on my shoulders, good tastes, and sound judgment of good vs. bad writing (as one example). I want to be smart, a critical thinker.

Joining the popular social network site for readers, Goodreads, reminded me of this. As I “compared my bookshelves” with those of my friends, I felt pangs of inferiority when I saw some of the discrepancies in our rankings of the same books. Here are examples of some of the thoughts that ran through my mind: Do I really think that book deserved 5 stars? So-and-so gave it a 3, and, knowing her, she probably had good reasons for doing so. I just click indiscriminately based on half-remembered impressions and loyalties, hardly a proper analysis at all! I can’t even tell you why I gave it 5 stars. What does this say about my tastes? etc., etc.

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photo by azrasta on creative commons (flickr)

To a lesser extent, I’m similarly self-critical about my opinions of TV shows, movies, and music (don’t get me started on politics or theology!). But books … I should know books. I’m an avid lover of words, I’ve always loved writing, I’ve taken classes. I should know a great book when I see it, and a good book, and a so-so book. And if I end up liking a book that’s widely viewed as only so-so, well, that’s okay, as long as I have good, intelligent reasons for doing so.

This, this, this, it’s all insecurities. The first step is recognizing them, they say. Well, I’ve seen them for a good, long time, analyzed them to death time and time again, called them by name. Many and varied are they that plague and and unnaturally shape my thoughts and interactions. They hold me back, poisoning and entrapping, hiding for a time and then resurfacing and throwing me back into a familiar confusion and a delving again into the whys.

Whittle down this particular insecurity to its root, and I believe it’s this: I’m afraid that I’m not smart.

Please let me be smart. 

That’s when I realize it must be time to return to the fountain of grace.

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3 Comments

  1. I get this post.
    It’s hard for me to be okay with others having differing opinions on things. Even people I really respect. I’m learning that there is so much for room for all of these opinions, and artistic expressions, and I don’t have to like them all, but I don’t have to apologize for what moves me, either.
    Good thoughts, as always! Glad you’re blogging again.

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