Seriously. …Adam Sandler.
I’m at war.
I didn’t know it at the time, but as I sat there in the dark of the evening, staring at the dashboard of my truck I was about to fire a shot across the bow of the USSDoubtcaster. It was about 9pm. I was tired, disappointed I hadn’t written anything that day, and really feeling defeated. I pulled out my phone and texted my cousin. He’s a writer too, and I knew he’d be able to understand where I was coming from.
…Crippling self-doubt tonight…
That’s all my text said. Just sending it made me feel a little bit better because I knew the person on the other end — even at 3,000 miles away — would receive it with love. The next morning I received his reply.
“The best thing about crippling self-doubt is that it is as temporary as overconfidence.”
See, that’s why I sent him the text. It was just a little reminder of something I already knew but hadn’t articulated to myself. It had the desired effect. I felt better.
Then something else happened.
My watch buzzed letting me know I was receiving a notification on my phone. Picking up my phone I looked. The notification was from Medium curators.
Our curators just read your story, Three Things I Had to Do Before I Got Paid to Be a Writer, That you submitted for review. Based on it’s quality, they selected it…
PS. Here’s that shot in the arm you needed.
OK, so I added the “PS,” but any Medium writer knows what I’m talking about. Receiving that first notification that you’ve been curated brings a nice feeling. This morning, as I was thinking about the experience, Adam Sandler came to mind.
Adam effing Sandler, of all people.
Back when I was in high school, I used to listen to Adam Sandler’s They’re All Going to Laugh at You! album. The album title comes from a line in a bit called Oh Mom. In the bit, there is a family talking about their plans around the dinner table. Every time one of the kids mentions something they’re going to do, their mother responds with a high-pitch, desperate sounding, NOOO! They’re all going to laugh at you! I’d never given the bit much thought beyond it being the humor if brought into my life. But now that I’m writing, now that I experience self-doubt as I work to create work people will appreciate, I wonder the Sandler and those who helped him did too. It’s as if they used creativity to call doubts out on the carpet. It was as if they made a public declaration about how to respond to an inner voice of doubt.
I wonder if every time Sandler wanted to do something creative, his self-doubt screamed, Noooo! They’re all going to laugh at you! This would be ironic, given he was a comedian and eliciting laughs was the point.
Perhaps Sandler was at war with his inner voice of self-doubt. It’s as if he was acknowledging it was there, but in an act of defiance he not only refused to allow it to have control, but he placed it in the spotlight and moved forward anyways. In the bit the voice is always there, never changing. When the kids state what they’re going to do, they hear the voice of their protective mother, ignore it and do those things anyways. The voice never changes except at the very end when instead of saying they’re all going to laugh at you, it says they’re all going to laugh at him. The voice is looking for a new audience. Sandler’s voice was right. We did laugh at him.
Sandler laughed all the way to the bank.
(Author’s note: I recently watched the 1970’s horror classic Carrie. Much to my surprise, Carrie’s mother at one point exclaims, “No! They’re all going to laugh at you!” There is no doubt this was the inspiration for the voice in the Sandler bit, and the title of the album.)