Michael Ian Black, who is brilliant and hilarious, recently wrote a blog post about his struggles with success vs. feeling like a success. It’s amazingly well articulated and honest, so today, if you are in a field that even slightly relies on public opinion, I am ordering you to read this. Or hell, if you’re at all concerned about being successful in your life but are not really sure what that means anymore, I am ordering you to read this. Click to read some of the parts that jumped out at me, and then go to there.
The other thing is a vague unease with my entire career. I can define the unease like this: “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” I’m confident this is a common problem among people. They feel like a fraud to everybody around them and live in desperate fear that they will one day be discovered. That’s how I feel pretty much all the time. For a comedian, I have never felt very funny, and do not have any idea how to be funny. This a really bad combination for a comedian.
By the way, nobody around me is telling me I’m a failure. On the contrary. But when those around me say encouraging things, what I hear is, “We’re just telling you this because you’re a failure.” So it’s a kind of a no-win situation for them. If they don’t encourage me, I think it’s because they think I’m a failure. If they do encourage me I think it’s because they think I’m a failure.
This is why celebrities get increasingly desperate to hold onto whatever fame they might have had at an earlier point in their lives. They need the attention because the attention is how they came to define themselves. I don’t think I’m like that but I would be lying if I said I was so far off.
Again, these are just a few choice nuggets from this post, which should be required reading for comedians. He doesn’t come off as whiny or depressed, just honest. Since then he’s written another post about his experiences with depression. Go here to read this post and any others you desire.
On a side note, go see Kumail perform with the Michaels Friday at Bimbo’s in San Francisco!