I’m No Expert

Sorry about how sparse the posts have been these past two weeks.  I think about the Serendipity Journal pretty much every day, but I haven’t been posting.  It’s not that I’m lacking for topics to write about; the past week has been busy between happenings at home, work, and a quick visit to Alfred University to attend my 25th college reunion.  No, there’s plenty to write about, it’s just that my new resolution to be completely honest moving forward has caused me to become tentative.

Here’s the truth: I like to think that I’m smart.  I want to think of myself as knowledgeable, I’d like to be thought of as an “expert.”  When I imagined this blog, I thought of it as a place for others to find answers to their questions.  I’d do my best to identify an issue, discuss its implications, and then give a nifty little list of helpful advice in bullet-pointform.  I’d help others grow with my keen insights and fresh thinking.

So far, no keen insights or fresh thinking, but then you’ve figured that out already, right?  I’m not unique.  I don’t have the answers that others need in their own lives.  Heck, I’m just barely bumbling along in my own life, trying to figure out what I need to do next. 

Now being completely fair to myself, I didn’t consciously believe that I’d become known as an expert through my writing on this blog.  It was really just a fantasy, a secret little game that I played in my mind.  My aspirations, as briefly outlined in my first post, were very modest.  However, along the way, my heart got attached to that fantasy, and that’s when the trouble began.  Each idea for a new post that I entertained, I rejected – not good enough, no strong insights, I might have to admit to having made a mistake, or worst of all, I might forward an idea that someone else disagrees with.  If I made a mistake and someone else caught it and pointed it out, then the truth would be known, everyone would see that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

So that’s why I’ve been MIA.  For a while there, it apparently was more important to my ego to protect that fantasy than to do my writing duty to keep the Serendipity Journal alive.  Please forgive my pride and foolishness.  And let’s be clear, this is not over.  I have a very strong habit of perfectionism that I developed over the first 45 years of my life.  Laying my mistakes and half-baked ideas out there for the possible consumption of the rest of the world flows completely contrary to what that “Perfect Dug” part of my personality wants to do.  And that’s exactly why it needs to be done.

He’s the one who’s been unwilling to ask questions when he doesn’t know the answers.  He’s the one who makes assumptions, and jumps to conclusions, analyzing and debating endlessly.  It’s unacceptable for him to admit he doesn’t know something.  Best keep your mouth shut, keep presenting that perfect, in-control face to the rest of the world.

At first that was fine, the barriers that Perfect Dug erected were my protection from a hurtful world.  But as time goes on, those barriers have turned to prison walls, and those walls are shrinking in, squeezing me into a smaller and smaller space as I become more aware of all there is to know in this big, beautiful world.  If Perfect Dug is no longer helping, then it’s time that we retire him from the team.

How do you break a habit of perfectionism?  What’s a healthy alternative?  How does a mature person deal with others that disagree with their opinions and beliefs? 

I have one other fear I need to admit.  To combat the expert fantasy, I’ve developed a new way of thinking about these posts – they’re my gift, an act of love, like gifts we made as school children to be given to our parents.  My folks were always so good about accepting my gifts; my father kept the rock I painted him in first grade as a paperweight in his office throughout his professional career.  Of course, when I was a teenager, I was completely embarrassed that he kept displaying that rock.  My growth made me embarrassed of the effort from my past.

Ah!  There, you see, that was Perfect Dug again.  Old habits are so hard to break.