October 10, 2007

I use Photoshop several times a week but I only know how to do maybe ten specific functions. I operate my camera nearly every day but I almost always leave it on “Auto”, so all I really do is aim and push a button. I watch a lot of movies but I don’t typically know anything about the directors, I don’t have any profound thoughts regarding cinematography or narrative arch, I’m mostly just passively entertained (or not). I like food but I can’t identify specific ingredients unless they are unmistakably present. I listen to music every day but I often don’t know who the band members are or how their music has progressed from past albums or what unusual instruments they might be playing. I wear clothes, but I don’t know shit about fashion. I enjoy the outdoors, but what I know about botany/geology/biology could be rolled into a ball and rammed up a flea’s ass. I write a lot, but I have a tenuous-at-best grasp of basic English language rules with regards to grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure (perhaps this one is obvious).

I’ve been a parent for over two years, but the vast majority of the time I feel like I’m trying to take care of some sort of insanely complicated piece of unpredictable machinery with no user manual in sight. In other words, I definitely don’t know what the fuck I’m doing there.

I’m not an expert on anything! How did I get to be 33 years old and not be an expert on anything? I mean, there are things I can do, there are even things I’m sort of good at, but there’s not one thing I can claim as being my area of expertise.

I feel like I need to address this and make it a Life Goal, to become an expert on at least one subject. Even if it’s something totally weird and useless, like being able to name every movie in the last ten years that featured zombies. Although I’d prefer it if I could think of something at least marginally relevant to the world we live in, so that I have the potential to be a handy reference. Man, I would love to be a handy reference someday. “Linda,” people would say, “can you weigh in on this? After all, you know so much about the subject which we are discussing. Your opinion would be exceedingly useful and would in fact provide a meaningful service!”

Plus, I could maybe have special business cards printed up. That would RULE.

While I’m pondering my future status as Industry Expert (Actual Industry TBD), tell me, are you an expert in anything? Tell me all about it, please.

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Amy M.
Amy M.
16 years ago

I also aspire to master something. I have a master’s in math, have played piano for 28 years, have played violin for 20, have been a mom almost 2 years, a dog owner for 3 years, took Japanese & French for 5 years, took voice for 2 years, & ran competitively for 4 years. And am I really good at any of those things? Nope. It’s really kind of depressing. Thanks for bringing it up!

Though, I’m pretty good at darts, remembering song lyrics, & eating disgusting amounts of Fritos. None of which I’m proud of, particularly the last one.

warcrygirl
16 years ago

Does couch potatoery count? Cuz I RAWK at that. I’m also pretty handy with Star Wars trivia.

beach
beach
16 years ago

i think your an expert on blogging….and just being yourself to the masses…..and your wit and humor, definetly expert indeed!!!

Jess
16 years ago

I am not an expert at anything. This proved to be an issue when I had to “auditon” to become an SAT tutor with the Princeton Review as a summer job a few years ago. You are supposed to give a brief, interactive lesson on something fun and interesting that you know a lot about, and it doesn’t have to be academic. I ended up going with “How to Refuse a Marriage Proposal from a Strange Senegalese Man in the Street” because like I said, expertise? Me? None.

GoingLoopy
16 years ago

I have a stupid memory for phone numbers.

And I also have a stupid memory for song lyrics. However, like you, I have no frockin’ idea of all the trivia regarding the band, or half the time, even who the band is. I remember when Green Day’s “Longview” first started getting radio airplay, I heard it, I was all “I NEEDS THIS CD”, and it took a week before the DJ finally said who it was. By that time, I knew all the lyrics to the song.

I also can buy clothes that actually go with stuff in my closet, without having to bring the stuff in my closet with me.

Other than that, I pretty much feel like you do – jack of many trades, master of none.

Em
Em
16 years ago

I think that’s the case with a lot of people–that is, not being an “expert” at anything. Personally, I think it’s more fun to do lots of different things well without the myopia of expertise.
As for me, well, I’m no expert, but I have made great strides in both getting ready for work while in the car (on the way to work) as well as finding reasons to avoid doing the dishes.

Amanda
16 years ago

Does breastfeeding count? I might be an expert at that, but otherwise, you just described me to a T. I do a lot of things pretty well, but I’m not an expert at anything and I can thank laziness and lack of intellectual curiosity for it.

PS – did you buy any sock zombies from Erin yet? YOU HAVE TO! underroos.etsy.com

Claire
Claire
16 years ago

I am the undefeated champion of “six degrees of separation” (you know, the kevin bacon game) among all my friends. i am also the world’s greatest procrastinator, and (contrary to what you see in this post, since i am typing with one hand and feeding my baby with the other) i am a grammar and punctuation nazi. really, i might be a novice expert (oxymoron anyone?) on when to use a comma and why you’d use which instead of that. other than that, i have no effing clue what’s going on.

Julia
Julia
16 years ago

I follow current events closer than most people, so often times I’ll have friends or family members ask me about a particular headline they saw, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert since, compared to some people out there, I know nothing.

I’m also a closet-Trekkie and can sometimes embarrass myself in front of people with my somewhat embarrassing ability to remember trivia nobody cares about. But having been in the presence of people who can tell you how a warp drive wouldn’t actually work in real life, I can assure you that I am by no means an expert.

Libby
Libby
16 years ago

Useless TV trivia, like theme songs and intricate point plots from shows from my childhood. (Brady Bunch, Mary Tyler Moore, MASH, etc.) I think that’s why I can’t remember new stuff like where I put my keys, because my brain is already full of USELESS CRAP. But! People have called me for answers to questions that I just know off the top of my head. I’m not having business cards made up for this, though, because they would just say: PATHETIC.

kj
kj
16 years ago

I like, totally get what you’re saying.
I loathe my job in HR right now (a job I was volun-told into and just took it like a schmuck with no direction) and now I’m trying to find a way out. That way out, I have sheepishly decided, is going to be Corporate Trainer-shaped, and will have lots of jingly bells of self importance and a big fat paycheck at least 2% bigger than what I”ve got trickling in today. Now all I gotta do is convince my as-yet-unknown future employer to take a risk on lil’ ol’ me who has no public speaking degrees (but 2 years of experience) no teaching degrees (but learned 4 foreign languages) and nary a program-based certification to be seen (though I’m currently the company guru for all things Microsoft Office).

*le Sigh*

It’s fun to pretend anyway. and as long as I keep a’ goin’ I’m sure I’ll land me a better carreer-flavored job soon.

Regardless, I TOTALLY get the “I should be better at something” ennui.

Jennifer
Jennifer
16 years ago

There’s much to be said for “Jack of all trades, Master at none.” You get to dabble in lots of things and have cool experiences all over the board. When “experts” spend so much time and mental effort being an authority on something, they risk the paranoia of “how can I call myself an expert when I don’t know A, B, or C?” You can make yourself crazy that way and limit the time you get to spend on other things.

Amy M. (your first commenter) sounds like my life with slight variations. I’ve taken Japanese on-and-off for 20 years and even studied abroad. Played piano for 30 years, oboe for 20, have 2 masters degrees. But the only thing anyone would consider me an expert on is song lyrics and Star Trek trivia. I can recite every line from every episode in the “Captain Kirk” Star Trek era – yay me!

But don’t YOU sell yourself short, I think you have a natural expertise in your storytelling ability, and I think you do very fine with grammar, sentences, spelling, and “painting a mental visual” for your readers to be drawn in. You do all of that using very few words, showing that you really know how to handle the English language and use it as your toolbox and paintbrush.

hello insomnia
16 years ago

My problem is that I have no patience. I want to be a master RIGHT NOW. I took up sewing but then realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing AND I am very lazy! That gets in the way of my mastering of anything other than Jeopardy category domination, which I can do during my sitting down time.

serror
serror
16 years ago

I can program my tivo to record lots of shows.

And I know a lot of trivia, that isn’t all that applicable outside the trivia/game world.

And I am really good at programing the clocks on things. Cars, microwaves, stoves, most appliances.

I can put things together/figure it out with out a manual.

But are any of those things I really want to excell at as a life goal? No!

Trena
16 years ago

Does being the master of mediocrity count? I too feel like I do a few things relatively well (knit, read, web design) but despite countless years in college, a few degrees and several years of professional experience, don’t have that one area that I totally own.

However, I can totally school my husband in “Who Sings This?” when we’re in the car together. Amazingly I cannot shop for 5 items (and not forget one) without a list, yet can manage to pull some obscure one-hit-wonder band name out of the five beginning notes of the intro to a song and totally nail it.

Where exactly on my resume would I put that skill?

Carrie
16 years ago

Um, hi! W R I T I N G. Humorous, smart, touching writing – expert status achieved. And you’ve got to be at least halfway to expert on Zombies and the knowledge thereof. I am an expert on the art of blow jobs. That’s about it.

Josh
Josh
16 years ago

I am exceedingly good at drinking cheap beer and whiskey. I’ve become quite the master of ignoring bad smells. Procrastination is a skill I have honed into an art. I’m fairly good at not getting flustered by bizarre and wildly inappropriate behavoir/situations. And I would say I do a bang up job at making love. Well I do an alright job of doubles love making, but I have exceptional expertise in singles.

Laura
16 years ago

I’m apparently doing a “PhD” in “Medieval Studies” and one day I’ll supposedly teach people about medieval history. But I’m sure as hell not an expert. Nor do I see myself becoming one. The more classes I take the less I know. It all just goes dribbling out my brain…

JMH
JMH
16 years ago

I am an expert at loving my family (husband and 2 kids) I may not always UNDERSTAND them, but I love them.

I teach in an elementary school, so I know a little bit about all of the academic subjects, but I am NOT and expert in any of them. (However, I usually know all of the correct answers on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader) :)

angela
angela
16 years ago

I’m an expert on Star Trek. Really.

Jennie
16 years ago

I’m an expert at sniffing out pizza WHEREVER I am. Also, I think it’s safe to say I’m an expert on Veronica Mars.

stephanie brown
16 years ago

I actually struggle with that question quite often. I often wonder what the heck purpose does my life serve in this world? Lately I’ve been leaning more towards pursuing and succeeding in a career geared towards helping people, encouraging people, sharing the mass amounts of love I have with people. I’m thinking of pursuing a career as a chaplain…preferrably in a hospital. Either that or a Christian counselor.
But what I’m doing in the mean time is being the best friend I am capable of being, the best daughter, the best sister, best grandaughter, best niece, best cousin, and best employee I can be….within my own power. It sure does seem like you are also going after those same goals (plus some others, mother and wife!) and if I do say so…you are succeeding quite well :)

Lawyerish
16 years ago

I don’t know if I could be qualified as an expert, necessarily, but I know an awful lot about ballet, dance history and choreography from my dancing days growing up and as a teen. I also have an embarrassingly deep wellspring of knowledge about (ahem) Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Little House books, and, um, pioneers in general — all dating back to when I was 5-10 years old. And I know more than I want to admit about eating disorders, having read pretty much everything on the subject for years and years.

As an adult, I have pretty much failed at becoming an expert in anything. I have a good working grasp of a lot of stuff — law, obviously, and legal writing; adoption procedures; religion and philosophy; Vietnamese culture and history (but not language — the Rosetta Stone may enable me to order in a restaurant, but I know it will not make me fluent); and the J Crew Final Sale — but nothing of which I can claim any impressive or superior understanding.

Marie Green
16 years ago

I’m a birth junkie and know lots and lots and lots of stuff about pregnancy/child birth. And know tons about breastfeeding and being and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. My knowledge is limited to navigating the local ranks (lacatation consultants, dr.’s, places in the areas that have good nursing spots, etc) and don’t know much about national breastfeeding sit-ins or whatever.

I also know quite a bit about books/authors b/c I worked at a Big Book Store for years, and have always been a vicarious reader.

I feel like I’m becoming an expert on twins, and navigating life with small children. That took YEARS though. YEARS. (I actually have a theory about this- that most moms/parents take much longer than they expected to find their Mommy Legs; that it isn’t until well into the preschool years that we find our groove, and our “parenting style”, and overall feel comfortable with this wacky job of guiding small human through life).

YOU are a brilliant writer, are gifted with words, and know more about blogging than I ever will. Often, when I read your words, I’m pissed that I can never think to say something so cleverly!

Corina
16 years ago

Like most of the other commenters (and you) I wish I was an expert at something useful I have an excellent sense of interior direction (I never get lost in a mall, even one I’ve never visited before) but that’s more a . . . skill? . . . a freakishly practical but hardly something to be proud of ability? . . . than an area of expertise. I’m just too lazy and busy watching TV to become an expert at anything. It’s why I gave up my dreams of being an academic, oh, about 5 minutes after I acknowledged having them.

Marie Green
16 years ago

Hey Lawyerish- I have a Laura obsession too! I used to wear a praire style dress (that my mom sewed for me) around, with my long brown hair in braids ala Melissa Gilbert and think I was COOL. I was probably 8-10. I still am fascinated with her and pioneer stuff. My kids have some of the “my first” Laura books- I’m hoping they will develop an interest too!

(I also LOVED Annie.)

deanna
16 years ago

i have a life’s to do list. seriously. its hanging in front of my space as we speak and number #12 right there is “become an expert at something.” ive crossed off a few of things on that list already [go to a world series game, take a wine tasting course…] however the expert thing is not one of them. i like to think of myself as an expert list-maker, as evidenced by the life’s to do list. a useful, however not exactly impressive, skill.

im in the process of getting my MSN as a pediatric nurse practitioner and id like to think im on my way towards mastering the field of pediatric hematology-oncology nursing care. in no way am i an expert by any stretch, but id like to think that im getting to know a lot about that very specific subject and plan to use that knowledge in the future. i would like to become a leader in that field and it just so happens that im lucky enough to be on my way towards doing it. unfortunately, its a science and nothing stays current for long. lifelong learning ahead, which is a good thing. maybe ill never become an expert…but i guess there isnt really anything wrong with that if it means that there is always something new to learn.

and as for amanda asking “does breastfeeding count?” HELL YES IT DOES. that is a difficult skill that takes time and practice not everyone can do it.

mo
mo
16 years ago

i DID train as a baker and i DO make a pretty mean dessert (not to toot my own horn or anything) so i guess i’m alright at baking. but even then i get kind of bummed about the fact that i dedicated like, four years to getting up at the asscrack of dawn and i still don’t KNOW anything. what i do? anyone could do it, it just requires a little more effort than most people want to exert when they can buy the finished product somewhere else. but i don’t know the scientific side of things, i don’t know thr business side of things, i don’t know how to create a recipe out of thin air, i need somewhere to start.

i am an expert waffler. i change my mind every two seconds. i’m twenty six and i have NO idea what i want to DO with my life.
and the photoshop/camera/parenting thing? you just described me to a T.

Ashley
16 years ago

I could be an expert on all things Hall and Oates or Slayer (no laughing). I suppose I have been an expert in the past but have grown out of the expertises (i.e. comic books, GIS, printmaking, art history) If you don’t keep up with something then how can you be an expert? I certainly don’t have time to keep up with much anymore.

OH I THOUGHT OF SOMETHING! I am an expert at waking up 7-8 times a night and not falling on my ass while stumbling to my screaming non-sleeping baby, does that count?

Melissa
Melissa
16 years ago

Wow – interesting comments – even from those who say they aren’t experts! I’m a expert at giving advice even when no one is asking. Yeah, not proud of it. It just happens. Otherwise, I know a little bit about botany, art, music, and baby-rearing (well sort of). Would love to be an scientist or astromoner but just don’t have the patience or the mathmatical abilities. So I just watch lots of interesting stuff on tv…I totally understand and can relate to this post. Always wanted to be an actress too…started and well – it wasn’t for me…new dream is writer/filmmaker – we’ll see.

DDM(Sonia)
16 years ago

I have The Most Useless area of expertise EVER. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this out loud.
*Big breath*
I can, within 5 seconds of hearing a song, bust out the dance moves from the video. Seriously. My husband particularly loves it when I do this in the car. To Pat Benetar.

Emily
Emily
16 years ago

I’m an expert on the Amish. Somewhat unusual, but true. I used to be an expert on R.E.M., but when Bill Berry left the band, I stopped keeping up as much.

Keaton
Keaton
16 years ago

I’m a video game fan, as well as a double major between Economics and Japanese, so my specialty (it’s not yet anything better than that) is the electronic entertainment industry (the actual industry, not necessarily the games themselves). Nerdy? Sure. But if I’m gonna enjoy what I do, I wanna be prepared to know all I can! Also, I want to get my black belt in Karate by the time I graduate (haha, unlikely).

jonniker
16 years ago

You already know this and mock me for it, but: perfume. Yes, I still oven-cure my sample strips and write about it, and I can name 30 scents with well-done patchouli in under 20 seconds.

Honestly, as far as expertise goes, it’s about as useless as it gets, save for the writing copy part. But honestly, the writing thing doesn’t require the level of … knowledge that I bring to the table. It doesn’t. And it’s embarrassing.

whimsy
16 years ago

I had someone tell me today that I’m the resident company expert at reserving conference rooms. Somehow, I think this was just a way to get me to reserve a conference room for the guy, because he was clearly too lazy to do it himself. It was amusing, nevertheless.

Banana
16 years ago

I think about this a lot too.
I’m fairly good at my job, but there’s no “Top Chef” or “Design Star” show for what I do… and if there was I wouldn’t win.
But if there were a reality show called “Top Knower of all Things Useless Pop-Culture” I would totally win that.

Jem
Jem
16 years ago

I’m definately an expert when it comes to my aural skills, analysing chords, all that stuff to do with music. I can notate anything (’cause of my perfect pitch) and I’ve never ever gotten anything less than 100% on any of my tests to do with that (I skipped stage 1 in my degree on that subject for that reason and went straight to 2nd year, which I got 100% for, although I kinda regret that a bit ’cause they didn’t bother mentioning at the time that I’d have to make up those 2 points somewhere down the line with a paper that would take me a lot of time and worry rather than one I could cruise through. damnit.)

And I get really annoyed when anyone questions anything I say in that area, because I KNOW. My boyfriend tried to start an argument about a note the other day, and I had to laugh and say If I say its (whatever), then it IS. And I was right, of course. Its the only area where I’m brave enough to speak up because I know I’ve never been wrong. Normally I’m shy, even when I think I’m in the right.

Jem
Jem
16 years ago

Oh, and I’m amazing at parallel parking. Today I fitted into the tiniest spot and smirked at everyone who walked by, like, you didn’t think I could do that? Try me!

Danell
Danell
16 years ago

I know more than one person has already mentioned it here, but I’m going to say it again for good measure…I think you’re an expert at writing in a way that pleases the masses! There sure are lots of us who love coming back here every day.

I’m a veterinarian, but the only thing I might say I’m an expert at would be clipping toenails. Ha.

Mrs. Breedorf
16 years ago

I like to pretend that I am an expert on cheese. There is some basis to this — I used to sell it at a gourmet specialty food store — but it isn’t like I have years of accumulated secret cheese knowledge. It’s just stuff that anyone with a sense of taste, a bit of memory space, and a tolerance for lactose can pick up.

Barb
Barb
16 years ago

Well, I’m 57 and have yet to become an expert on anything. At times I’ve felt the same way as you in thinking perhaps I should be an expert at something. I’ve dabbled in a whole lot of things that have piqued my interest and I think that’s more important. If you become an expert as a byproduct of that interest, then that’s great, but not really the point. I really would rather be open to lots of areas of interest and flit back and forth, which I do have a tendency to do. Try this! No, now this! Whoa, let me try that! :) My big fear is that I will die before I’ve tried everything I want to try. You’d think one would narrow their interests as they get older, but that’s just not the case. Well, that’s my expert opinon! :)

lisa
16 years ago

I have a BA and Masters in Photography and work for the most part as a freelance photographer and teacher, so you could call me an expert in photography. But with anything, I’ve found that the more you know, the more you need to know. Once I learned photography the old fashioned way, I quickly needed to learn Photoshop, then digital photography and then graphic/page layout design and even a little web site design, because photographers are expected to be designers these days too. So I guess the moral of the story is that even if you are a so called expert, there is always more to know. Learning new skills keeps the brain alive, or so they tell me. :)

Swistle
16 years ago

I am an expert at making fudge. Also: at cleaning up barf.

Melanie
Melanie
16 years ago

I am an expert at picking out watermelons — want to avoid mushy, tasteless ones? I can help! It’s not brought me much cold hard cash, but between, say, June and August, I’m occasionally handy to have around in the produce section.

Swistle
16 years ago

Also: I can calculate due dates.

mothergooseamy
mothergooseamy
16 years ago

I often wonder why I don’t have one particular thing that is my “thing.” I like to do lots of different stuff, but I do not like any of that stuff enough to do it as often as necessary to become an expert at that particuar thing. My husband is the same way. Jack of all trades, master of none. I think it may actually be better not to be an expert on any one thing in particular because you are more worldly when you have many different experiences. Also, you don’t have to act like an arrogant, know-it-all, jerk when your “thing” comes up in conversation.

Anne L.
Anne L.
16 years ago

Does oversleeping count? I am an expert at justifying it as I revise my AM routine in my head every ten minutes. Snooze button expertise, I got it.

Taryn
16 years ago

i can type 70+ wpm (even w/ backspacing to fix mistakes). people comment on it frequently. a friend & i were watching olympic downhill skiing and i said “you know, it’s sorta unfair how those people…in life the one thing they’re really good at is skiing. they’re olympic skiers. the only thing we can do is type. so i guess that makes us olympic keyers. i think we got cheated!” LAME. it’s probably gotten me a few jobs. but who wants to be good at that??
i also get frustrated easily when i don’t get things right off the bat, so then i just quit. or i get discouraged b/c i see someone who is magnificent at something and then i just think “well, hell, i’ll never be THAT good” so i guess my mind says “why bother?”. i used to be sorta good at art—watercolor, sketch & pointalism. but i got burned out on it so i quit–that was like 12 years ago. plus there were all these other really great artists who were a million times better than me.
i swear, i like a lot of things, but my memory sucks…i can’t recall info in it’s entirety even tho i know i know it. and i know if something isn’t right. but i can’t say what it is that is incorrect about it. i used to date this brainiac kind of bookish guy who had all kinds of heady conversations about history, poets, politics, blah blah. we’d get into a lot of fights b/c he was good at recall & debate and me…i’m over here floudering trying to figure out what i am trying to say.

Angella
16 years ago

I understand your frustration. Completely.

I’m no “expert” but have recently been learning the manual functions of my camera. And you know what? They’re NOT HARD.

Who knew? I sure didn’t.

I started posting “Foto Fridays” a few weeks ago to share HOW EASY IT IS. I’m not kidding – it’s REALLY EASY!

(PS – We have a common friend in Kristin)

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