If you look up the words “confidence” and “arrogance,” you’ll find there’s a fine line between the two. The former means having self-assurance in one’s own abilities or qualities. The latter implies an offensive display of superiority or possessing an overbearing pride. But where’s the line between self-assurance and overbearing pride? And who decides?
As artists and creatives, we face a unique conundrum. People expect us to be confident in our work, but not boastful. We’re often told in the early stages of our careers that we don’t “sell” ourselves enough; that we need to toot our own horns, sing our own praises, get out there and make people believe we are good.
Then when we start to experience some success, we are told the opposite. “Don’t share too much about how well you’re doing. It makes people feel bad.” Or “It makes you seem arrogant.” We feel pressured to downplay our achievements, even in our moments of greatest success. Humility, even if it’s not sincere, is demanded.
Unless, of course, we are geniuses. As a society, we expect, maybe even want, our genius artists to be boastful and arrogant, so long as they do so in a manner that is eccentric or colorful. Then we can shake our heads and say, “Well he can’t help it, you see. He’s a true artist.”
In a sense, I’m not sure whether we can ever censor ourselves enough to know when we’ve crossed the line. Like so many things, it comes down to subjectivity. I once had a friend ask me if I was afraid of seeming boastful if I announced my new award. Another friend, though, told me, “You don’t brag enough. You need to let everyone know all the things you’ve accomplished.”
So once again, it comes down to being true to yourself, and leaving the judgment to others. If you’re proud of something, if sharing that news makes you happy, if you hope it will somehow make others happy too, for heaven’s sake, say it. Give us a chance to share in your excitement.
Just remember that a little boasting goes a long way.