I Am Not An Expert

(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 12/6/14)

I feel such relief telling you that.

I’m gearing up for a major blog overhaul for the New Year, and this morning as I journaled I contemplated what the focus of my new blog should be. I took a look at the types of articles I write, and they are all over the place – gardening, cooking, recipes, writing, relationships, self-healing, mindfulness, pop culture – the list goes on and on it seems. There is no one topic that I prefer writing about above all else.

That’s when it occurred to me – I am not an expert. At anything.

Yes, I have a master’s degree. I vigorously studied acting and theatre for seven solid years. I’ve easily reached the 10,000 hour mark that is supposed to signify mastery of a skill. Yet, I don’t feel like an expert. I see how much more I still don’t know, how many more skills in just that field alone I have yet to conquer. I can’t pull a German dialect out of my back pocket (even though I’m of German descent), and I still sometimes have to look up the rules when I’m scanning Shakespeare text. Not to mention I don’t know how to read a teleprompter, my tap dance skills are basic and rusty, and I still get nervous on set because my mind is completely encumbered with hitting my mark and making sure I’m doing the same thing with my right hand on that one word in each take so it can be edited together smoothly, let alone doing any actual acting that I was trained to do.

I realize that one of the reasons I have not been terribly successful at anything is because I lack the laser focus that is characteristic of truly accomplished people. James Clear wrote a fantastic essay on this idea, citing how Warren Buffett advises to make a list of all the things you want to accomplish. Pick the top 5 goals and ignore everything else until you reach those most important goals.

I love this in theory, but in practice I’m a complete failure. I’ve discovered that I find the world an endlessly fascinating place, and it is nearly impossible for me to focus on one, two, or even three things solely, at the exclusion of all else. Stop gardening so I can go to more casting director workshops? Don’t make a fantastic dinner from scratch so that I can get in 1,000 more words on my novel? Never travel because I might be out of town for an important audition? I can’t do that. I just can’t.

One of the greatest joys in my life has been the discovery that nearly everything is interesting. I have finally found some level of peace and contentment knowing that I can find happiness in the smallest things, and that the more I know about all these small things, the more interesting and fulfilling life becomes.

So what does that mean? It means I’m not an expert at anything, and I probably never will be. It worries me as a writer that I cannot speak about any one thing with authority. But I’m coming around to the idea that maybe I am an expert learner, an expert student. Maybe what I have to share with the world is my enthusiasm about all the things around me, around us, in this big, beautiful world. I’m just not the type of person to put all my eggs in one basket. Why? Because look at that cute box over there, or that hand-knitted bag! I could put some eggs in those, too. And why limit myself to just eggs? Some fresh-baked croissants would look awfully nice in there as well.

My new blog is not going to share any expert insight into any one thing. It is simply going to be me, sharing my journey of lifelong discovery. I hope you’ll find it compelling enough to take a walk with me now and again. Perhaps you’ll also discover some of those wonderful, small things that make life so sweet, and so precious, and so worthy of our attention.