Believe in yourself. Bleh. Is there a motivational phrase more hackneyed? Do you suppose, for instance, that if I really, really believed it I could make it as a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre I could do it starting now at 33? I could not, reader, because believing in yourself without the goods to back it up (goods: talent, discipline, years of hard work) isn’t inspiring, it’s delusional and annoying to the people who do have the goods. Take, for example, the roughly one billion people I’ve met who—despite not having read a book since high school—really, truly, deeply believe that can write one. And yet…believing in yourself doesn’t mean you negate the hard work, it means you double down on it. The belief is what makes the work seem worthwhile. For the long road to convincing anyone else to give a fig about your art begins with your giving baskets upon baskets of figs about it. All the figs. You might be encouraged and helped along by moms, coaches, professors, and Facebook friends, but if you don’t believe in you, you’ll find a thousand tiny ways to sabotage yourself before you ever get where you want to go. You must take you to bed each night and rise with you each morning, if you are determined to thwart you, you will succeed. I found this in myself by knowing that long after others gave up, I wouldn’t. And I won’t. What have you found the audacity to believe about yourself?