F. Scott Fitzgerald: Self-appraisal
"I had a definite philosophy which was a sort of aristocratic
egotism. I considered that I was a fortunate youth capable of
expansion to any extent for good or evil. I based this, not on
latent strength, but upon facility and superior mentality. I
thought there was nothing I could not do, except, perhaps, be-
come a mechanical genius; still I traced special lines in which I
considered [I] must excel, even in the eyes of others. First: Phys-
ically--I marked myself handsome; of great athletic possibilities,
and an extremely good dancer. Here I gave myself about eighty
percent. Second: Socially--In this respect, my condition was, per-
haps, most dangerous, for I was convinced that I had personality,
charm, magnetism, poise, and the ability to dominate others.
Also I was sure that I exercised a subtle fascination over women.
Third: Mentally--Here I was sure that I had a clear field in the
world. I was vain of having so much, of being so talented, in-
genuous [ingenious] and quick to learn.
"To balance this I had several things on the other side. First:
Morally--I thought I was rather worse than most boys, due to
latent unscrupulousness and the desire to influence people in
some way, even for evil. I knew I was rather cold; capable of
being cruel; lacked a sense of honor, and was mordantly selfish.
Second: Psychologically--Much as I influenced others, I was by
no means the 'Captain of my Fate.' I had a curious cross section of
weakness running through my character. I was liable to be swept
off my poise into a timid stupidity. I knew I was 'fresh' and not
popular with older boys. I knew I was completely the slave of
my own moods, and often dropped into a surly sensitiveness most
unprepossessing to others. Third: Generally--I knew that at
bottom I lacked the essentials. At the last crisis, I knew I had
no real courage, perseverance or self-respect.
"So you see I looked at myself in two ways. There seemed to
have been a conspiracy to spoil me and all my inordinate vanity
was absorbed from that. All this was on the surface, however, and
liable to be toppled over at one blow by an unpleasant remark
or a missed tackle; and underneath it, came my own sense of lack
of courage and stability. If I may push it farther still, I should
say that, underneath the whole thing lay a sense of infinite pos-
sibilities that was always with me whether vanity or shame was
my mood" (Turnbull, 34-35).
Turnbull, Andrew (1962). Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.