Appreciating Your Own Expertise...

Monday 9 April 2018

Hey everyone, I'm not sure when I will publish this post, as it is entirely unplanned, so apologies for the blunt/out of date introduction.

As I'm typing this it is 10 to 9 on a Wednesday evening. I woke up this morning puffy-eyed and exhausted, and the last thing I expected to be doing at this time when I first dragged myself out of bed this morning was sitting down to type a blog post. But then the best blog posts, quite often like the best nights out are unplanned and the words flow like shots at the student union (do the youth still drink shots?).

I woke up this morning, physically and mentally exhausted. I'm currently living above the neighbour from hell, and last night I had a bit of a freak out about my career and where it was heading so you could say I wasn't really ready to face a day of work, followed by an evening running a freelance workshop.

And yet here I am feeling inspired. So how come this day turned out so dramatically different from what was expected?

Because, despite what I was telling myself through teary sobs last night, I am really good at my job(s).

It's not something we like to admit, is it? In fact most of the time it's not something we even realise. 99% of the time being good at your job means not noticing how hard your working. We notice when things go wrong and how hard we have to work to turn them around, and we notice when something is new and different, and we have to work hard to learn those new skills. But when your days go smoothly how often do we realise that the only reason things went smoothly today was that we have created calm waters for ourselves? By being prepared, by putting systems in place, by knowing our shit.

We don't notice that until we have a day that we expect to be terrible, and it isn't.

Today wasn't terrible because I know what I'm doing at my job and I'm good at it. And this evening when I was running a workshop with a group of young people and had to explain who I am and what I do, I heard me introduce myself, and I realised that I really am those things. It's not just a job title or a way I try to explain what I do, it is something I can take full ownership of, that I can explain and can pass on. 

In my own right, I am an expert in what I do.

I so rarely appreciate and own that. 

Maybe it's modesty, or maybe it's not something I need to be aware of every day, but today I really am appreciating just how far I've come.

From when I first started my day job, and I would obsess over every event I'd planned convinced that in some way I'd have messed it up, or from when I first started running workshops as an artist and felt like a fraud.

Being good at what you do creeps up on you, gradually new scary things aren't so new or scary, they are mundane so you think of your ability to do them as mundane. Things stand out when they go wrong, or when we feel out of our comfort zone, and we think that the fact that there is still new stuff to learn, or ways we could improve means that we're not an expert yet. But there will ALWAYS be new stuff to learn, and stuff that could be improved, that doesn't mean you're not good at what you already know and do.

If you're struggling to appreciate your own expertise think about how naturally certain things come to you. Think about how easy you find it to communicate through the written word, or how you can take a great photo without even thinking about it. Sure there are sometimes spelling mistakes and sometimes photos that take hours to get right, but on the whole, you don't find them impossible to do, and a lot of the time it feels like you 'just do it.' Now think about how many times you read an email and think how bad it's written, or how many times you see a blurry photo. 

So often we take the things we are good at for granted, but just like I could never play rounders to save my life at secondary school, the captain of the rounders team couldn't act.

Maybe you have a natural talent, but it is one you've worked on over the years, something you've practised over and over again, and there will be people in the world, in your office or on the same bus as you that would find it impossible to do what you can do.

So don't take yourself, your ability, your creativity, and those smooth sailing days for granted. Because somebody worked really hard for those things to feel so easy and natural, and that somebody was you x

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