You don’t have to be an expert at everything

The perils of being a recovering perfectionist

I think one of the things holding me back from posting more freely on here is because I feel like I have to dispense expert advice on every topic. That I can’t just say: ‘I’m interested in blah’ or ‘I’ve discovered this new (to me) thing’. I feel like I have to then own that topic and fully explain it. I feel like every blog post has to be a full-blown, well-researched feature. I don’t want to get things wrong. I don’t want to look stupid, or be ridiculed for my lack of knowledge.

I guess that’s the peril of being a [recovering] perfectionist.

I still have that streak to strive for 101% or nothing at all.
I recall when doing projects at middle school, on topics like volcanoes! Or the Egyptians! Or castles! I would take out every book on the subject matter from my local library, read and absorb everything I could, then regurgitate it all (in my own) handwritten words on reams and reams of paper.
I’d illustrate all my points with mini works of art, too. They’d take me ages to produce, and my project folder would always be the widest one handed in; stuffed full with pages. I’d always get top marks, and probably knew more about the subject than the teacher, by the time my research was through.

And therein lies part of my problem. I was continually rewarded for my efforts. With praise, grades and status. I’d set the bar high – too high.

It’s harder still, for me now, as someone with a huge array of interests, especially on the more spiritual side¬† – e.g. mindfulness, meditation, simple living, crystals, yoga, tarot. I haven’t got tens of years of experience tucked under my belt, so I feel like I can’t talk about them with any authority. Yet it’s impossible for me – for anyone! – to be an expert on abso-bloody-lutely everything.

Case in point: I recently saw a blogger tweet that the new moon that night was going to be followed by a full moon the day after and honestly? I imploded a little inside.

It was actually really interesting to observe my thoughts.

Part of me was aghast at someone getting something so wrong.
Part of me wanted to be THAT GUY and tweet back correcting her.

Then finally, part of me was in awe of the fact she probably didn’t give a flying fuck because she has found a new area of interest, joy and discovery. She’s not claiming to be some kind of moon expert (although that does sound like a snazzy job title).

Another case in point: the month-by-month summaries on here. I guess I wanted them to be a kind of almanac with notes on seasonal wildlife, flowers, vegetables to look out for. Folklore. But I don’t know anything about this. I’d have to research it –specifically– to write the post. Instead of reading or learning about something at my leisure, and being so enthused I feel compelled to share on my site. there’s a big difference.

{Incidentally, I got The Almanac 2018 by Lia Leendertz for Christmas, which is basically everything I’d envisioned! Something clicked for me when I read the acknowledgements. Despite the author being a garden and food writer, as she puts it: “I have had to reach out for help in compiling much of the information contained here [within the book].” COS GUESS WHAT? She didn’t have all the answers either!}

So what if I embrace the fact I’m learning? That I always will be learning? Put a disclaimer in front of things if it makes me feel better: I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING NOR ALL THE ANSWERS AND I MIGHT GET THINGS WRONG.

Tbh I think the other bone of contention for me is the belief that you need to have a qualification underpinned with years of study to be considered an expert on any subject. Perhaps this stems from my own insecurities (or perceived “failing’) around dropping out of University after only a few months there and never getting a Degree.

But over the last two years I’ve been letting go of old beliefs and really digging deep into my childhood and formative years to understand where some of my mindset stems from. I’m slowly learning to unlearn some of my bad habits. To let go. Which has freed up my mind and I can feel a creative block slowly starting to shift.