I got a note the other morning.
A plaintive note.
It was from a young man I don't really know but we've had some correspondence in today's prevailing fashion, what the French or the hoity-toity would call a la mode.
My incipient friend has started his own advertising business and has sailed into--as explorers have since the Phoenicians--a sea devoid of wind. The world has turned still. He is becalmed.
He wrote "I am staring out my window and wondering. Does George ever feel this way?"
Not too many months ago I had a big client presentation. A client who found me out of the blue and whom I couldn't pick out of a line-up.
I work alone--and rarely show my work to anyone outside of the people paying for it. I hardly even show my wife, who also has 40 years in the business and is most-often breathtakingly level-headed. I work in my head, and always have. Old habits die hard.
For this presentation, for whatever reason, I was especially shaky. I knew the work was good. And I've trained myself to repeat to myself that "my good is other people's great," but I was wracked.
Finally, I called a long-time friend.
"Do you ever get nervous?" I asked.
I got in return a Shakespearean soliloquy on anxiety, lack of confidence, fear and very high stakes.
I thought about all that when I got the note from my young friend about his business slowing down.
I thought about the tortures I put myself through when I have a slow day, or a slow afternoon, or even a slow hour. I thought about all the hall-of-fame people I have known and worked with and still work with, and how the phone not ringing is the same as the bell tolling. Each non-ring is a chime at midnight portending doom, hunger, a life under a highway overpass pushing a shopping cart filled with old styrofoam and discarded rope.
There aren't many people on god's no-longer-green earth who don't have fettuccine issues, except for the 5-percent of us who are psychopaths. The rest of us have I'm Pasta Syndrome--which has been Americanized as Imposter Syndrome.
I call it, rightfully, I'm Pasta Syndrome because I'm a purist by nature--and that was the original etymology. I'm Pasta because my backbone--my spine--which has helped me through so many hardships, challenges and travails, is limp and weak. It is not holding up.
My muscles, which have always been bursting with sinew, have turned glutinous, flaccid and sad.
My brain, which has always been to the teeth--al dente--strong enough to make others feel something has, at times, the constitution of Spaghetti-O's. Soggy like a worm after a teeming jungle downpour.
I'm Pasta Syndrome, whether it's about running your own business, presenting work, finding clients, entering a room where you know no one else, is part of being a human.
For whatever reason, most people pretend it doesn't happen to them, or they have some sort of godly confidence that shields them from the farinaceous plagues.
Do not go quiet into that good gnocchi.
Rage rage against the dying of the linguini.
Posit I'm Pasta-ness.
Then use your noodle and move ever forward.