People in general either seem to have a lack of self-confidence/self-esteem, or an inflated sense of it. I'm sure we've all run across people who think they're God's Gift To <Whatever-Topic-of-Discussion>; programmers who think they know everything, people who think they're Don Juan or a supermodel, etc...but also we all know many people who doubt themselves.
I know I personally am constantly astounded that people find me attractive; I don't think I am. I know I'm a good programmer - and periodically a scary one - but I don't think of myself as some shining example. I'm astonished that people like my writing; I tend to think it's crap when I go back and read it. I am shocked that people like any of my art, because I know I suck as an artist. I tend to put my friends before myself; I'll try and help a friend deal with pain before I deal with my own troubles. Yet...there are people I run into who think I'm 'really cool' and worth envying, for whatever reason.
And I know it's not entirely justified; my roommate chewed me out the other night when I was mildly down, pointing out that I have done a lot of code which is useful and impresses people, that I stand by my friends and so am valued by them, that I do have guys thinking I'm attractive and so on. Intellectually, I know that, but emotionally it's hard to grasp sometimes.
And I know also that I am far from alone in this; barely a handful of hours after my roommate and my discussion, I ended up having a similar discussion with some friends online. One of them - someone who I think is one of the coolest folks I've met online in a long time, very creative and who can do things with art I could barely dream of - felt like they were 'lackluster' next to myself and our mutual friend. Now, I think this is a ridiculous claim, based on my own viewpoint and opinion... yet is it really any more or less valid than my own self-doubts?
Sometimes I wonder if that isn't what really separates humanity from animals; the capacity for self-doubt. Sometimes doubt can spur us to improve ourselves, and then it leads to bettering ourselves and - sometimes - even the world around us as well. Yet doubt can also be crippling and leave us curled into a ball, as with yet another friend I know who I periodically despair of ever getting to uncurl and really shine like I know he can. And some people, I think, take that doubt and squash it down to avoid being crippled, but let it get to a point where they refuse to feel ANY doubt, leading to the 'I am the master, I do everything, I am Don Juan' mentality.
Hrm. It's 2pm. Perhaps I should turn some attention to food, instead of philosophy. Lunch is good.