Val and I were talking about our basic attitudes towards skills and challenges the other day. I have a relatively odd sort of disposition in that I feel that I could do absolutely anything excellently if I put my mind to it. It sounds like boring old narcisscism but I think there are some key differences between me and someone who is just simply full of themselves. I don't think I *am* particularly good at most things, I just have a core belief that I could do anything I wanted to. I also don't attribute any particular valour or importance to it - who cares about unrealized potential if I don't do anything about it? This isn't something I defend or believe in or choose, rather it is just the instinctual way I think about things.
"I could do that. I could be great at that. I probably won't though."
Most people don't think like this. Val pointed out that in academia in particular people are very often familiar with impostor syndrome where they feel like they have somehow snuck in and really don't know anything. I don't feel that way most of the time and certainly not about skills and areas of knowledge - I think people generally rate my abilities at things about the same way I do and it mostly reflects reality. I am really damn good at games, decent and writing and speaking, and have few other skills of note. Somehow despite that my brain is consistently able to remain utterly, completely certain that no matter the task or competency I could be world class at it if the desire was there.
I do feel imposter syndrome when I am trying to be a Serious sort of person though. I mean, do serious adults really spend all of their time thinking about Diablo 3 builds, roleplaying game mechanics, and sex? I mean, I totally think about buying groceries and making small talk and making computers do what I want but only for just long enough to make the world conform to my wishes. The instant that is done it is back to tongue wrestling and games. Sometimes when I am walking about the world and people are treating me like a Serious sort of person I wonder. Do they imagine that I am thinking about The State of the Economy or Politics or something else important? I do, but only for a minute, and then it is back to longsword damage modifiers and tab A and slot B.