I know it kinda sounds like I’m going to start a post on gardening, but no, I’m talking every time you talk about something you are proud of and excited for and you feel this incessant urge to qualify whatever it is...to qualify it with something sure to indicate just how much of a hobby it is, something that shows how you are trying your best...but you’re no expert...even when you might/could be.
Does any of this sound familiar at all? Cause it sure does for me. I find myself trying to hedge and “well, actually…” my way out of being good, just good at something I enjoy. Because I don’t do it professionally, because someone else obviously does it better, because I literally only put 10 plus years into it and that cannot be enough. All the “reasons” why I must explain all the nitty gritty behind the scenes to why I deserve only the barest amount of credit (if that, sometimes).
The world wants us to be great at things or don’t do them...or at the very least stop being so excited about them. Well, this is how it feels sometimes. I want to be happy and enjoy the things I may or may not be good at (see hedging, again). I don’t need to be great, I don’t need to be an expert. And honestly I don’t even need to be good at it. I’d just like to be able to be excited about something I enjoy even if I’m not so great at it.
I mention this bit because I want to use it to point out that it often feels like the world is looking out for perfection, not hobbies and most definitely not something you do purely for the joy of it. This weird and idiotic need to qualify what you accomplish is totally unnecessary.
I mean, why do I need to share that I used a variety of references for some art piece when the final piece is the focus and the references, traced or not, are only a small part of the greater whole? The gestalt if you will.
Why do I need to say that when I say I ran 2.6 miles the other day what I mean is that I ran most of that 2.6 miles but had to slow down and walk for a bit to catch my breath and let my calves calm down a bit?
And why do I feel the need to disabuse someone giving me a compliment on my typeset job of the fact that I’ve only recently started “officially” typesetting for an actual real publishing house...when I’ve been typesetting and designing covers for my husband’s books for the last 10 years? We technically have a publishing house, too (there I go again with the use of “technically”).
Too often I find myself stealing my own thunder, not allowing myself to actually live and honor my abilities. I say something I’m proud of to someone and when they give me a compliment/praise I am trying to tamp down my inner critic who would happily say “well, actually…”
Sure, some things may be in need of qualifications but when the qualifications are getting lost in the weeds of self doubt and depreciation it may be a good idea to assess for the truth behind the hedging. Are you trying to clarify or undermine? I’m still new to this assessment process myself and am not anywhere close to catching myself in the act 100% of the time, but I’m getting better.
All I ask is that you consider (some things I’ve mentioned before) that often something is better than nothing and done is better than perfect. Also, doing something you enjoy doesn’t need to be explained to anyone, unless you want to.
Anything you’ve been hedging and/or qualifying that really shouldn’t need it?
—A Recovering Design Imposter