Amateur at Everything

Each of has a limited number of things that we are pros at… whether those are the things we get paid for, or things that we have mastered as hobbies.

Everything else (relationships, decision making, raising small people, taking care of our bodies, buying and selling cars and houses, picking a career…) is amateur hour.

So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the subtitle of this blog is (and has been, for years), “Experiments in Living with Uncertainty.”

The last 15 years of my life have been one long process of coming to terms with this deep discomfort: We’re just making up all the most important things in our lives.

Let’s group those “Mastery” skills into one category. You might have as many as 10 things in there, depending on how they overlap, whether you’re a ridiculous overachiever, and how old you are.

Our culture has this ridiculous idea of “Work-Life balance,” in which one of those things takes up at least 50% of your waking life, and everything else is pushed into the corners. This is a trap I’ve been trying to escape, because what we *actually* have in this era of the gig economy, side hustle, freelancing, and constant pivoting looks more like Work-Work-Life-Life-Life (and maybe some more Work) balance.

We have this myth about the proper life (let’s use a middle-class approach, where you go out to a predictable 9-5, with appropriate child care, and come home to a family that makes dinner and then spends an appropriate amount of time enjoying one another’s company, goes off to bed and does it all again the next day.) There are variations on a theme, but they all have sort of a vagueness about them. Magically (in this imaginal realm), the house is always clean, everybody is in a moderately good mood, we know how to eat and exercise and cook and clean, and hire good people to fix things around our house and find child care and date and get to know one another and resolve conflicts and have a good divorce and get remarried and plan a wedding and choose among career paths and decide on a school and save for the future and make ethical purchasing decisions and keep up with the current Netflix/Prime/Hulu binge-worthy whatever so we can participate in the conversations around the water cooler and also, oh, we know the right political positions on everything even though they are always shifting because society is (literally) socially constructed and…

Take a breath!

Life, it turns out, is complicated.

And we’re all making it up as we go.