Over the weekend, I organised a catch-up for all the folk who enrolled in the same course as me at the Victorian Writers Centre last year. So that the catch-up would have at least a vague purpose, I asked everyone to come ready to: compare experiences, share excerpts, highlight useful resources, celebrate successes, commiserate slush-pile losses etc.
So, we chatted and compared journeys, then reviewed two pieces that one woman had brought along. Both were strong and had considerable potential, with a little work. One was particularly lovely: a poem with a narrative about animals that explained a specific musical concept.
The author explained that she had written it, then sent it to an expert on rhyming and rhythm for assessment, only to be disappointed with how "boring" the corrected version was.
I looked at her, incredulously. This woman was an accomplished musician, and a published author in a range of genres. She had written a lovely poem that children of all ages (and adults) would enjoy, with a useful educational purpose. Why did she need anyone else's assessment?
I'm not sure if the stamp of approval from the "expert" was required for publication in this specific genre and didn't have the chance to ask. But her assumption that her own skills and talent and intuition -- or her lovely poem -- were not enough, had me pondering ever since.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about self-care. So much so, that my email inbox is starting to bulge at the seams with advice, creative prompts, playbooks and guided meditations. The irony that my own research into self-care is starting to get overwhelming is not lost on me. But neither is that I have not really learnt much that I didn't already know.
Like my colleague from the writing course, I am pretty quick to assume that the knowledge and experience I have on something is not enough on its own. I am the first person to enrol in an e-course, purchase a kit, sign up for a workshop, order a book. And then... a lot of money and information overload later... I have to wonder: have I really travelled all that far from where I started?
Don't get me wrong. I am completely committed to research and self-knowledge. I am deeply grateful for the people in my life that guide and support me. I have gained so much from a broad range of programs, including e-courses, self-help books, creativity guides. E-courses in particular are an inspiring, accessible, cost-effective way to learn new skills, test out ideas, build a community. I would not be where I am today -- in my blog, in my tribe, in my life -- without them.
But I think there comes a point when you have to wonder what else you have to gain from following in someone else's footsteps.
So this week, I invite you to take a little pause with me. Before you enrol in that e-course or workshop, before you click to purchase that book, before you pay up and download those resources, before you sign up to that mailing list... what is it that you are actually looking for?
If it's a skill you don't have, a forum that you need, a community that beckons, then by all means: sign up and savour!
But if it's authority that you could give yourself, if it's the fear of missing out on something, if it's fear that you'd offend someone by opting out, if it's the assumption that you don't already have or know enough, then please know that you have permission to go no further.
Because if you stop and breathe and open your eyes, you may just see all the expertise that you already have. Even if it doesn't look as pretty or confident or easy as someone else's.
It's yours. And it is so worthy of investing in.
I believe in you. x