Editor’s Note: In one of those strange coincidences, I was listening to an NPR Tiny Desk concert as I was working on your post and the music seemed to match it perfectly. I’ve no idea what the lyrics are because it was your words in my head but the music itself was lovely. http://www.npr.org/event/music/236264498/daughter-tiny-desk-concert?sc=fb&cc=fmp
For the last few years, I have been on a constant journey. The nature of my journey has changed over time, but it is my journey, nonetheless. From the moment I was born, I’ve never been the type to follow the ‘normal’ route that most kids are trained to take. I’ve always done stuff outside the box; that tendency has sometimes propelled me forward and sometimes held me back. At all times, however, it has helped me see that I am the shaper of my destiny.
It’s easy to forget that we are imbued with the super-power of shaping our own lives when we fall too far into the mundane patterns of everyday existence.
Back to my journey: It started when I was 28. I had been working in my professional industry for five years and was essentially in the same place where I started. Sure, I was learning a lot, but I was spinning my wheels, brake pad-deep in mud. I looked at my life and realized, “Hey, I’ve stopped thinking outside the box. Shit.” So, I sold everything I owned and moved to Vancouver to ‘find myself.’
Over the next four years, I was essentially chasing shadows all over the place. “Oh, there I am!” “No, wait, I’m over there!” It seemed the only way I was able to identify myself was if I allowed someone else facilitate me in unlocking the secret truth about me and then…ah… there I was! It became this exhausting game of humility, self-submission, and shadow chasing followed by shadowboxing. At the end of those four years, I looked back at my life and realized, “Okay, I’m a foot forward of where I was four years ago, which means I’m a foot forward of where I was 9 years ago, which means… what? What’s this big secret all about? Why can’t I figure out ‘who’ I am?”
And then it struck me… I was that fish in the water—unable to see the water for what it was. I realized that there was nothing to ‘figure out.’ I am who I am and I can never be any different, and that’s a good thing. I’m not talking about knowledge or skills. Those can always be improved. But my inner me-ness, the thing that makes me me right down to my core, is what it is. The only healthy way for me to interact with that version of me was to embrace it. And I’m glad I did, because it’s no wonder I was so busy chasing shadows—the inner-core of me shines so brightly that it casts long shadows everywhere.
So, at that point, I decided there would be no more mentors. There is nothing wrong with mentors, per se. They did, after-all, help me move forward a foot. The problem was more that I put so much trust in others to tell me who I was that I failed to realize how to uncover my own sense of self. So, from that day forward, I decided two things:
- I am perfect. In this moment. There is nothing more perfect about me.
- I am love. It is the very nature of my shiny inner core.
I also decided three more things (I know, that’s five things but I needed to break it up):
- It will take practice to make my inner core shine at its brightest levels.
- I will fail, a lot, and, sometimes, I may even decide to cover up my light and label it ‘out of order’ while dealing with my failures—just as they do when they need to fix the beautiful steamboat Mark Twain at Disneyland.
- Because I am in this human body that can only absorb an extremely small amount of sensory data at any given point, I will most likely not be able to reach every dark shadow with my light, but I will certainly try.
This is where my journey has led me. I look over my life and my relationships, what I’m doing, where I am, and where I am going, and I realize that those five moments of awareness have taken me leaps and bounds forward, on my own. Just a simple understanding that I am perfect in every way, with a light of love to shine. It warms me through and through.
With that understanding, I am starting to collect mentors again, but with a different purpose. I am expanding my circle of support to those with like-minded values so that I may practice shining my light through a metamorphic experience of emulation and practice. I’m learning now in the same way that I learned about my body when I was a child. When I perceive a limitation (knowledge or skills), I can call on a resource, have them show me how they manage it, and emulate their approach until I can improve my own. A life-apprenticeship is really what I’m talking about. None of that changes who I am, deep down inside. It only enhances my sense of self on this journey.
And that is the message I hope to send to you.
Your mantra for the week:
I am perfect, exactly the way I am, exactly right now, exactly this moment. How my body feels and how my emotions are changing deepen my experience of my perfection.
Have you ever had a phobia? Or something you really like to do and really want to do but can’t bring yourself to actually do for whatever reason comes to mind? Public speaking? Driving fast down a straight-stretch highway? Running a red light when there’s absolutely no one around? Walking outside in your robe without makeup?
Well, I do. One of those is writing in my blog. See, I have no doubt that there are people out there who want to read my blog. I get email responses all of the time from people who like what I have to say or want to challenge my thoughts in some form or another. But I get scared. I have this idea that a blog is supposed to be a place where people go and say things that enhance other people’s lives. So then, I sit here and think to myself, “Who am I to think that I am someone who can enhance other people’s lives? What have I done that’s so great that people feel as if they are better having read my posts than not, whether they agree with what I have to say or not?”
So, I just usually don’t write blogs.
But the thing is, I have set up my life so that the people involved all love and respect me, and I love and respect them. This sort of mutual give and take of love and respect lends itself to giving and taking advice. So, when my friends are struggling with something, they call me and I give the best damned advice I can give (which is, frustratingly, sometimes not advice at all but rather, “Well, what do YOU think you should do?” to which they respond with “Dammit, Tabby,just tell me the answer.”) and nearly every time, my friends respond at the end of the conversation with feedback that they feel better now, having talked to me.
It surprises me every time. Am I really that wise? Or has the world lowered their standards so much that I seem wise?
This is the lie that intertwines itself in all aspects of my life, it seems. I maintain this concept that I have somehow been selected by everyone I know to do things greater than I feel I am capable of doing, and I just don’t get how I am able to maintain these expectations. It’s this strange disconnect with reality that I actually CAN maintain them and I do—all of the time.
Well, anyway, my point is, I’m scared to expose myself and my thoughts and beliefs to the world because I have lied to myself my entire life; I’ve told myself that I am not worthy to share these thoughts and beliefs. But what makes someone worthy of sharing thoughts and beliefs with the world?
I have no idea. But, I’m going to keep expressing myself in this blog even if the only thing I can post is a picture of something I found beautiful, or a poem I liked, or a set of lyrics I wrote.
See, I used to be on a journey to ‘discover myself.’ I realized, however, that I know perfectly well who I am. My present journey is to stop distracting myself with lies about my self-perceived imperfection.
My affirmation for the week is that I AM perfect, and that making mistakes or failing does not invalidate that perfection.
So my question for you, the reader: Are these things you struggle with, too?
Bead necklace in the sun #summertime
This message was recently written on my Facebook page:
“I am officially sick & tired of everything & all of these cheesy perfect comments about how blessed life is for them!!”
It reminds me of one of the sources for the writer’s block I occasionally experience: I don’t want to reveal my weaknesses. And if I do, I want to show you how I’m overcoming them. I don’t want people to know there are areas in which I am not only weak but also without remedy.
Relatives have made comments to me about how they don’t post about their entire lives because they choose to make their lives private rather than be exhibitionists. That is not verbatim but a fair summary of the messages several people have sent to me. I have no idea what they mean, but I read it as “Look, woman, you post EVERYTHING about your life online and I don’t really care to read all those details. Keep some things private!” They most likely didn’t mean that at all, but that’s not really the point.
The truth is, I don’t post even 10 minutes a day of what goes on in my life. Granted, much of my life is the same pattern: get up, go to work, go home, spend time with Savannah, spend time with my dog, go to bed. There are, however, lots of in-betweens that I don’t post about. Most of the time it’s because I’m in the moment, cherishing the memories even as they’re being made. Sometimes it’s because I’m failing…a lot. In this case, there are several reasons for not sharing: 1) I might like the journey enough to want to figure it out on my own and do not want a solution. I just want someone to listen and maybe share his or her own experiences. With a solution-driven society and a Pinterest board for just about any problem that can be overcome, simply commiserating with fellow members can be hard to do. 2) People worry about me when I fail. Sorry, mom, it’s true. I rarely disclose failures on the internet because I don’t want anyone to worry on my behalf. Everyone has their own struggles. Ironically, that’s what I need now… others to come in and help where they can. 3) I imagine that people only want to see solutions for their own problems and don’t want to just read about problems with no current solutions. It seems like “I had a bad day but I saw a double rainbow and everything is all better” is way better than “I guess I’ll go to sleep sad again tonight.”
Just the other day I was walking my dog and happened to overhear a phone conversation coming from inside someone’s house. It sounded as though they were talking to someone they hadn’t spoken to in a while, updating that person on their life. “Yeah, yeah, my daughter’s doing okay.” She went on to talk about all the good things going on in her daughter’s life. But all of the good things happening in her life didn’t match up with her doing just “okay.” I sense from her language that her daughter is struggling but she doesn’t want to admit that to others. My thoughts about that conversation reminded me of the ever-fateful auto-response that we have created every time we pass another human that gives us eye contact. One person says “Hi!” The other person responds “Hi! How are you?” but keeps walking so the only response that you know you can say in the two seconds that are left to see that person’s face is “Well, thank you. How about yourself?” Then as the person passes you, they may not respond at all or they may respond with an equal goodness and that is the end of that exchange. So everyone’s doing well, all the time.
So here’s my “come to Jesus” moment, if you will. My life changed unexpectedly in January and I’ve had a pretty rough go. A miscarriage and a relationship break-up in the same week took an intense toll on both my body and my hormones and my recovery has been slow. Now’s the time I could use supportive friends in my life to walk with me. I could use friends who will hug me over a nice cup of tea and say “it’s going to be all right.” See, I have no problem changing my emotional state, believe me, I’ve had plenty of practice, but the way my body feels can’t change as quickly and that has been the toughest part in the last six months. If I reach out and talk to others, maybe I’ll find some comfort by learning that all of these things going on physically are merely a part of the game of life and it will all subside. Of course I can never know that for sure, but to put those fears aside for a little while would be fabulous. Phew, there it is– one paragraph that’s been so hard to say all these months.
So here’s my question: Why are we so apt to report how WELL we are doing to members of our community? At what time is it appropriate to begin reporting how UNWELL things are in order to gather the community around us to help with things when it’s all over our heads? With our culture of ‘wellness’ and its insistence that everyone must be doing well and good all of the time lest someone feel uncomfortable, how DO you send out an SOS? Complain on Facebook? Call all your friends? Respond with “Not very good” as the smiling stranger passes by? Post a blog about it? Call your mom? What is the right action?
And the corollary to the point is that I don’t know. I haven’t figured this out but I am willing to risk all of my pride right now in order to step out, raise my hand and say “You know what? My life is a little bit challenging right now. I could use all the help I can get” and trust that my community will have my back. Maybe making this step will allow me to open up and write more and share more. Only time will tell.
I have turned over a new leaf. I have a new focus in my life. From my late 20s until recently, my primary focus in terms of humanitarian endeavors was the inequality of citizen rights as they relate to the LGBT community. I am excited to see, with Minnesota passing laws making it the 12th state to allow inclusive marriage, that this focus has paid off and LGBT people are beginning to be viewed as equal across the United States. I know it’s still got some growth to go, and I will always put my pom-poms on when necessary, however I have decided to shift my focus to a set of citizens that need a voice: children.
How did this come about? Well. I am glad you asked. Like most adolescents, I spent a grand portion of my teen years carefully scrutinizing every decision my parents ever made. I constantly added to the infinite list of “when I have kids, I am not going to do that.” Now in my thirties, I have a deeper understanding that the decisions my parents made were based on their own upbringing; they were making what they thought was the best choice for their child according to their family values. The title of my list is now: “I have learned from that experience.”
The original list was mostly responses to feelings of anger, betrayal, or just general observations from my barely logical brain about what didn’t work. Things like “Never read my kid’s diary” or “grounding is not the solution to EVERYTHING” or “if you are old enough to watch your siblings when I am gone, you are old enough to enjoy some autonomous activity external to home.” There was so much more but the list fades in my mind as the years wane on. The bitter observations shift as I gain a deeper understanding of what may have gone on behind those decisions.
The new list was built with the benefit of 15 years of life-experience and at least five years of introspection. I have come to understand that every experience is not only a chance to learn, but it IS learning. I have also come to understand that, in life, not every anticipated outcome immediately follows the prescribed actions. It took me 15 years of being obese to learn that there are ongoing “poisonous” effects to being obese for that long. Gallstones don’t happen overnight. Obesity didn’t cause that directly but poor eating habits did. Other possible complications from being obese can include high blood pressure, possibility of fertility issues, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, etc. Alternately, and this is the thought-birth of my new list, positive change doesn’t happen overnight, either. To correct undesirable behaviors, it sometimes takes weeks of practicing the new learned behavior. When helping an emotional seven year-old to find a non-violent way to express her stronger emotions, it takes months of discovering positive replacements, trying them out, failing, and trying again until it works.
Every experience results in learning. So how does this relate to children? I think this foundational belief would free children from the idea that I’ve heard people talk about with respect to their children that they are beings born with an innate need to control “animalistic” behaviors via manipulation, disrespectful attitudes and attention-seeking behaviors; a short list of the mechanism by which some people view children’s actions. By shifting your perspective from one with mal-intent to one with understanding— that children are born with a blank slate and develop their sense of the world every second of their growing lives, it is my hypothesis that you will begin to see things differently. With this perspective shift, every manipulation is now communication: every tantrum is now dealing with a world they barely understand with the added complication of being unable to express themselves adequately. Children are little scientists—putting out their hypotheses, creating theories and schemas for life, and seeking to understand a logical reality with no real grasp of logic. They learn from what they are modeled and try new things they learn elsewhere. Whatever works, works, and that is success for a child scientist.
Children deserve the utmost respect and understanding from us “grups”. They have the hardest task out of the whole family. They have to address each experience blindly, trusting only their vision and hypothesis, as well as their parent’s guidance on how to navigate the world around them. As adults, we have the privilege of inspiring new ways for children to not only survive but to create and build love, compassion, and self-confidence.
This changes things for me. It changes my entire perspective on childhood and adulthood. For me, this means children get more control over their lives and decisions. They are encouraged to try and fail or succeed. They are encouraged to explore every nook and cranny of every passion they discover and add as much as they can to their repertoire of life-knowledge.
The closest thing I’ve come across to what I am talking about is the concept of “radical unschooling” where children are partners in a family unit, and as early as possible, make their own path in life. Parents lovingly provide for them and create as many learning experiences as they can, understanding that every moment, no matter what the activity, is always a learning experience for their little scientist-children. Activities ranging from apple picking to watching cartoons are investigated, hypothesized about, and set into the child’s knowledge bank. The more naturally and passionately parents allow this to happen, the more powerful the experience for the children.
I think mixing this with a little bit of “Parenting with Love & Logic” and we may see a lot of progress in how children see the world around them. Maybe we can begin to relate to children in that critically important way to create a better tomorrow with less issues as adults… Adults who will be more focused on the real issues at hand… this present moment (or, the present moment of the future).
Photo Credit: Kitchen Science by Knitting Iris
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to skip ahead to the last few pages of any book to find out what happens in the end. THEN, I can read the book because to some degree, I know what to expect. That’s not how I write, though. Well, to be honest, I don’t really have any plan at all when I write. I usually just start with an idea and write and write and write and hope that it begins to take shape. If I were a clay or ceramic artist, I’d probably end up with the funkiest plates and bowls and cups ever.
But when it comes to my life vision, I realize that having a better understanding of how I want to shape my future is the best way to shape my present. It gives me a road map to follow, knowing that things will get adjusted as time goes on and I discover more and more about myself.
Deep down, I am what people might call “free-spirited.” Without a personal vision, I will take life one minute at a time and pick whatever feels the most comfortable to me in the moment. Because I lack having built a deep sense of self early on in my life, without a solid vision in my life, I often find myself so far away from the lifestyle that I would like to build. I find that sitting down to document the lifestyle I want is healthy; it helps me to have something to check in with, to decide if I am currently on track or getting off… and it allows for re-adjustment. Or, perhaps the whole vision plan needs to be re-addressed. And that’s what this is about. Me.
I assume that I will die of a ripe old age, of complications with old age, because that is part of my generally purposefully naive free spirit. So with that assumption, I am able to figure out what kinds of things I want to be said of me at my funeral and the party afterward… what will people remember the most about me? Will that happen? I don’t know, but it’s what I’d like to have happen.
What legacy do I want to leave behind…the talk of the town after I die? As I think of that, I remember my grandmother’s funeral. She had 16 children, and they all loved her. As many of them that could attend her funeral, did attend. Everyone talked about the valuable lessons they learned from her and there seemed to be a single common thread: care. Granny was the most caring person any of us had ever met. She cared, deeply, about any and everyone and any and every situation. I’d never known her to cut off communication with any of her children, no matter how much they fought her or disagreed with her. She would always be there, caring, even if only in her own head. So when I think about that experience, I realize that the word I’d like to think people would associate with me is love. How much I loved. Who I loved. How I loved. How many people my love affected. How many people loved more because I loved.
I believe that love is an eternal well…it never depletes. I believe that every human harbors his or her own eternal well. It springs from them and flows in abundance with no concept of depletion.
What is love, anyway?
So what, exactly, is love? And, also, importantly, what isn’t it?
I view love, to put it simply, as self-love + joy + altruism (as in, the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others, not to be confused with philanthropy). I know, I used the word in the definition. Let me explain. As I said in the paragraphs above, there is an eternal well that starts with me (and you) and it comes from me (and you). The only way to truly love, in my opinion, is to love everything about you, even the things you don’t like. I love every aspect of my life. Of course, that wasn’t always the case but, as I get older, I am able to look back on my life and my experiences and think, “Man, without those experiences, I would not be here today and I would not be the same person I am now and, good golly, I can love like no other. I like me. I love me.” The effect of this is that the decisions I make in life are, ultimately, decisions that will drive my goals and my plans for my own life. They are choices between living fully for my own future paths and trading myself for instant gratification that will never be fulfilling enough as long as I believe that external resources cause happiness. As I make decisions, if they are out of love, I will be able to self-correct them with care and gentleness.
I used to be the kind of person who punished herself with every “mistake,” which, incidentally, was me letting myself off the hook and not taking responsibility for my participation. “I am a victim of that, oops, didn’t really mean to do it. Don’t hold me responsible.” Now, I don’t view my life as a mistake. I look back and think, “Oh, that’s why I made that decision. Okay, time to correct.” It’s fascinating when you shift your perspective. Of course, there’s still some things I don’t want to claim responsibility for and I just haven’t brought them to my consciousness yet, but, when I do, I’ll correct it.
Back to my definition of love. It’s a “state of being” that encompasses the entire world like paint dripping over a ball. It starts with me and just oozes over everything as I think about how everything is interconnected. It’s a sense of mindfulness, with deep concern for how everything affects everything. It’s joy, even when there’s pain. It’s joy because of the pain. It’s recognizing that pain is good and necessary, and that it shapes you and everyone around you, providing a sense of humanness, of boundaries and limitations…and reality. Love is seeing all of that and feeling even more and even deeper for humanity, including self.
So where does the altruism part come in? Can one love enough with self-love, alone? Is love the same when alone as it is with other humans or objects or whatever sparks that connection? I believe that extending this concept of self-love onto people or objects or concepts drives the human experience to love deeper, longer, and better. I think it all reflects back to your own sense of self-love, and yet it deepens your sense of love for all other things. It’s like two mirrors that reflect, infinitely. Even if I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was the only human in existence on this earth, I don’t think this sense of love would stay contained within me. It’s like a vibration that bounces off other things, real or imagined, in order to grow. Think of pizza dough. The more stimulation it gets the larger the dough grows…from a tiny little ball into a big round disk with just a little time and effort. That’s how it is for me. With joy alone, I feel that you can walk through your world, feeling joyful, and, while it may have an effect on other people, that’s not necessarily the intention. The intention is to feel joy! To see the world through joyful eyes! With love, I think there is an element of “other” whether it is a person or an inanimate object. With that understanding comes great responsibility and care.
What is not love?
There are so many forms of expression that I think people often confuse expression with love. For instance, love is not “giving.” While I think there can be an element of giving that is important when it comes to relating to other humans—not necessarily in the sense of giving money to the poor or giving to some charitable event, but expressing more from yourself for the betterment of the world as a whole, whatever that is for you. Giving a part of you where you can interdependently give, and that can be part of this experience of love. But, ultimately, love is not the same as giving. I think this is an area where I have had confusion in my life in the past, where my relationships failed because I gave to the point where I completely disabled people’s ability to provide for themselves in certain areas. I called that “love” but, is it?
It’s not “being loved” or requiring anything in return from other humans. It is, however, trusting that when you have your own experience and you put love into the world, you will get both love and, for lack of a better word, “unlove” back, and that is just how the world is—the yin and yang that keeps the universe in balance. The best way to resolve that for myself is to love more, to seek out the love and the unlove, and love anyway.
Back to my list of nots. Love is not “being agreeable”. It is not “being friends with EVERYONE”. And… it is not “sex” or “babies”.
Ultimately, there’s a whole lot of ways that I think our current understanding of “love” is confused and the goal is to love because of that. It’s like watching a child attempt to put together a puzzle…and struggling. There’s nothing better to do than sit, watch, and love as s/he has that experience of figuring it out—maybe providing some guidance but understanding that the best way for that child to learn is to struggle.
This is how I want to shape my life, and these are the things I want discussed at my funeral, and forever after, when people think of me. And I am committed to steering my life in this direction.
How do you play video games or board games? Do you decide, ahead of time, what you want to do in the game and what strategies you want to take? Do you figure it out as you go? Or, do you try to do it all? This is the story of how I got to be an expert at nothing.
As a little child, I remember sitting down playing with a little toy restaurant. My granny had given me and my little brother a piece of bread to make “hamburgers” with for the toy restaurant, which was roughly 1/3 of my height. We played for hours and filled our little bellies up with hundreds of tiny pieces of bread. One day, one of granny’s friends came over and watched as we played. I don’t remember the person well, but I do remember the discussion about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
“A firefighter.” I shouted. After a few seconds I stopped and looked up and said, “And a doctor, that would be cool. I could help people.” I kept playing while the stranger asked me more questions about what I wanted to be. “Well, I guess I could be a nurse.” Those tiny bread rolls never tasted so good. I’d roll the bread up into a little pea-sized “bun” and drop it down the “chimney” of the restaurant where it would roll down onto the conveyor belt (that didn’t convey, incidentally). I’d then pick it up and eat it– or share it– but mostly eat it.
The stranger kept on asking more questions. “Is that all you want to be? A firefighter, doctor, and a nurse?”
“No. I think I will be a teacher too.”
“Which one do you think you’ll be first?”
“First? All of them. Why do I have to pick one first?”
That conversation is one of the greatest examples of why I don’t meet my own expectations of where I think I should be, today. I still hold that belief, to this day, that there will be enough life on this earth for me to do everything all at once… even when reality tells me something different.
When I survey my past, I can see more examples of this, in various circumstances. In second grade, when I was 8 (I was 8-years old in Room 8 on Bus 8… that was really funny to me), I received the “future writers” award. My teacher, Miss Pencense, exclaimed several times that I would one day become a famous fiction author. Those were really great hopes, teacher. I was really proud of that recognition and, well, I still secretly want to be a famous fiction author. In sixth grade, during my graduation ceremony, I was awarded recognition as “future scientist of the year.” Well, that was nice and unexpected, especially since, while I loved science and really got into how things work, it’s not what I ever thought I would get recognized for.
It was often the case, during school, that I was awarded recognition in some fashion or another for subjects I felt entirely confused about. So the recognition was confusing to me. For instance, in 2nd grade, I was the ONLY student who was pulled from class twice a week to work in the computer lab and play math games and logic games. I was told it was because I was “gifted.” In fourth through sixth grade, the “gifted” kids were all pulled out of their regular classes and put into a class together where we had to sit around a table and do strange puzzles like…make a pig pen to hold seven pigs, one in each pen, with only six toothpicks… or answer questions like “If a train was headed towards Dallas at 1 billion miles an hour and another train was headed to California at 1 trillion miles an hour, at what point would the conductors be able to wave to each other” or some crazy questions like that. It was also when I started building computer programs. We drew little turtles and hearts on our COMMODORE COMPUTER RAWR using matrix commands and syntax. I admit, I looked forward to going to that class ONLY if it wasn’t during science because it got me out of doing the rest of the boring stuff everyone else had to do, even though I still had to do the homework. Besides that, I was still confused as to why I was the special one to be picked.
I have never felt “gifted” in my entire life. I have, instead, felt an ongoing sense that I am capable of more than some of the other kids, and I can do more, at once, than many of the other kids. I guess I got that idea because I did the school work that all the kids did, AND the “gifted” work on top of that.
So, any time I have ever played games require skill-building… heck, even the game of RISK, I have repeated the same pattern. I want it all. I want everything. I want all of the skills. I want my soldiers on every country. I KNOW I only have a limited amount of skill points, but I want to spend them evenly on everything.
Neapolitan is my favorite ice cream, because it’s all three flavors. As you can guess, if I were into pizza, I love me some supreme pizza.
I want it all.
So hey, remember the subject of this article? How I got to be an expert at nothing?
I have been doing computer programming for ten years, so there’s that. That’s about the only skill I’ve developed for that long and I’m not doing too bad with that. However, when I zoom out a bit, I also can strum a few chords on the guitar, can play the piano enough to lead a singing group, can sing enough to occasionally pipe out something nice, can play chess with intermediate level players, can paint enough to know how colors mix, can write enough to elicit people’s responses or to encourage analytical thinking, can make videos with some forms of transitions and add music, can create graphic designs to some degree, and can pick up sweet dance moves fairly quickly.
Well, I guess I am an expert at something…being a “Jill-of-all-trades”.
When I think about that, “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome kicks in. Maybe I want to be the kind of person that is exceptionally skilled at one thing or another. I’m looking at what either lifestyles are like, in general. Like, why do I think being either a “Jill” or an expert is a good idea over the other one? I get that having a specific skill-set has more potential for greater return of investment when it comes to money. What is it about having a wider pool of skills at a lower level that seems so beneficial to me? If I think back on the “occupations” that I have wanted to do “when I grow up” that have stuck with me throughout the years… it’s “Teacher”, “Mommy” or “Writer.” This kind of mindset lends extremely well to all three of these career paths.
Moving forward, I want to encourage my future generations to craft skills and become experts. If one of my currently non-existent children wants to be a famous rock-star… I will have a sufficient musical foundation to be able to help them start in that direction. If they want to be a nurse, a doctor, or a firefighter… I will be their cheerleader. If they want to be a teacher, I’ve got their back. I intend to encourage skill-crafting as much as possible, even though it’s not something I’ve really ever wanted for myself.
How do you even know when you’re an expert, beyond degrees or certificates? What kind of things do you consider yourself an expert at? A brother of mine is a plumber. Another brother is going to school to be a respiratory therapist. These are specific skills that allow for extreme specialization. How do you view specialization and expert-ization vs knowing a-little-bit-of-everything?
A Teacher, A Writer, and a Mommy. I’m still sure that I can have my cake and eat it too.
Image from GoodlookinVintage