Hi Peter :-) Welcome to Startup Nation (SuN)
I think what`s instructive is the phrasing of your worries---the
paranoia, as you say. Note that your main concern is people questioning
your right to stand out from the crowd. Also note your worries about
using your ego, being confident, being assertive, and generally using a
strong set of boundaries around your personality.
I don`t know your age, but in all probability you went through the
modern US education system. There, you`re explicitly taught to never
stand out, never be "better than someone else," and that it`s
completely unfair and downright immoral to ever compete with anyone in
You`re going to have to reconsider the meaning of ego, competition,
pride, and competence. You`re going to have to contemplate the idea of
being "better" than other people. Without coming to terms with the
facts of nature and life, you`ll be doomed to always run away from your
own dreams, desires, choices, and options.
Think about it this way: If you were DaVinci or Michelangelo, would you
say to everyone, "Aw...shucks...it`s not all THAT great, y`know? It`s
just some paint I slapped t`gether while I was bored." I doubt it,
otherwise you`d never go anywhere.
Look back at your role models for competition. If they`re as flawed and
dysfunctional as I suspect, then the fault lies with the role models,
not with you! To that end, search around and find new role models. You
might consider reading Ayn Rand`s, "The Virtue of Selfishness," to get
a better idea of what`s going on. Or, if you`re more into fiction, try
her book, "Atlas Shrugged."