The conversation around the fear-and-confidence post was rejuvenated and made me think in terms longer than a reply comment.
Much of the conversation-externally and internally-revolves around trying to figure out the difference between "self-expression" and "communication." But is there really a difference? I don't think there is. Ego is in both and unless you're spending 12 hours a day in zazen, ego is not bad or good-it's just there.
Try to imagine a musician who is completely unaffected by the presence of an audience; who responds neither to praise, silence or to rotten tomatoes heaved at the stage.
On the other hand, try to imagine a musician who gets no personal satisfaction at all from pleasing an audience, whose every note represents a begrudged martyrdom. Despite the bitching and moaning we all do about bad gigs, I have real difficulty thinking there are no moments of personal creative satisfaction mixed in.
The more extreme positions-each contemptuous of audience in its own way-are probably more reactive than self-generated; more about self-image than evaluating the balance between your expectations and actual audience feedback/acceptance, and then deciding consciously what steps, if any, you could take to change the balance.
It probably doesn't help to ask yourself the usual question-"what's really important to you?" That's just a way to think yourself into an endless spiral.
No doubt there are people for whom confidence is more or less a fixed commodity. For most of us, it's always in flux. A constant creative re-consideration of the difference between self-acceptance and ambition is probably something that, at the least, would do no harm.