Are You an Expert, or Just Play One on TV?

The reason I’ve been unable to contribute what I consider anything of substance to any one of the myriad of online soapboxes is because I didn’t feel like an expert in anything. I had no top ten lists, no gadget reviews, no pitches on how to make money in just four hours a week; all I have are my ideas, perceptions and insights — and even those I keep to myself for the most part.

Sure, I am — or was — good at being a designer and, maybe, a writer. But this, the third extended period of unemployment peppered with the relentless rejection from potential employers has left me doubting myself: I don’t know what I can do, really, having been told over and over for years how I wasn’t successful.

And that’s the key phrase, the one that cuts to the bone now. I thought I had a pretty thick skin (it’s a prerequisite for being in a creative field) but for the better part of the past seven years it’s the only phrase I’ve heard more than any other.

Now, I get that blogging about not being able to get work in my chosen field (after 25 years, I might add) may sound like a first world problem when talked about in the context of all the other wars, climate disasters, mass shootings, etc. But at the same time try and see my dilemma for what it is and, I think, the crux of it can apply to the struggles of many people: that no matter what you do, or how hard you work, it makes no difference. That there’s always something that “wasn’t good enough” in the judgement of someone else, a total stranger who has rejected you for such circumstantial and irrelevant reasons: you’re too old, you’re not from around here, you might want more money than the twentysomething that still lives at home, you might have to go to your child’s school function instead of work late, etc.

Going back to the aforementioned global calamities: do you think that, on some level, the domino effect of more and more going with less and less (especially in the last few years) only adds to the collective anxiety, turning up the heat until tempers and sanity boils over, resulting in some of the headlines we are pummeled with on a nearly daily basis?

You might try and argue that things like natural disasters as the result of climate change are beyond our control. Really? Whether or not you believe in the global warming explanations it’s hard to deny that humans have done more damage to the only place they can inhabit (for now, at least) since the Industrial Revolution than in any other time. Conversely (and somewhat ironically) it’s also been a time of relative peace compared to the wars and crimes of the past.

Take Australia for example: The economy of this very isolated continent depends largely on mining, specifically coal. Many scientists say that in order to slow or stop the global temperature from rising too high to the point of throwing the entire ecosystem into chaos we have to stop burning fossil fuel, specifically coal. Now, have the “experts” here figured out how to avoid a complete economic collapse and still comply with eliminating coal from the list of stuff not to burn? If they have they’re sure doing a good job keeping it a secret, because it seems like the next big moneymaker is going to be the carbon tax. That means all the companies that are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will have to pay to offset their emissions. And that means they’ll pass the price off to you, the footy-loving public who would rather watch TV shows that are about people putting up drywall, singing songs or cooking than be up in arms over yet another scheme that will benefit the already-too rich.

In the past eight months I’ve become quite an expert in trying to channel my frustration into something constructive. I have not done a very good job (see: self-doubt, above) but at least I’m trying. I live on very little money (which is dwindling) and spend far too much time alone, mulling over things like I’ve just mentioned. In fact, I’m actually going to try and turn all of this — the anxiety, the frustration, the outrage — into something I think will help people, with two rather ambitious projects that are about to begin.

And instead of trying to be the expert as its defined today I’m going to take a different angle: be approachable.

What’s your expert opinion? 😉

  1. I think: welcome to the blogosphere – you might find this a good place to vent, to connect and to share your work with the world. I would like to work in the creative field – but realise that there are many more talented people out their looking for work. It doesn’t stop me, or those I work with, from making things though. It might one day lead to something, it might add to a portfolio… or it might just be for fun ^^

  2. Here’s my amateur opinion, as well as some thoughts. First, I just started blogging today, and have hardly posted anything. Your blog enjoys the honor of being the very first one I have read in this WordPress world, and I have to say it resonated strongly with me. Exactly one month ago yesterday I was “downsized” from my writing job in a creative department of a large international corporation. The department I was in had gotten too big, and so three of us were let go (two of whom, including myself, are over 50). This being my first experience with being downsized, I too have been wrestling with feelings of being “not good enough” in the eyes of others.

    You are an excellent writer, so keep feeding your thoughts into this place. We’re reading and we totally get it. I appreciate your consideration of the global calamities and collective anxiety swirling about us as we try to find gainful employment. I was let go the day after the Boston Marathon bombings, and was licking my wounds as the city of Boston (my birthplace) was in lockdown. All very confusing: you want space to mourn your own personal loss while also making room for the grief of more universal sufferings.

    I like to write about cheerful things, and hope to do a lot of that here as my blog unfolds. But I agree that it’s hard to keep things light with those horrific daily headlines. In the end, though, we need optimism, hope and humor, don’t we? I think so. Hang in there, and keep writing!

    • Eddie said:

      The day after the bombings?! That’s harsh. I was let go from one job a week before Lehman Bros. collapsed.

      Thank you for your words of encouragement, and you keep writing, as well!

    • Eddie said:

      Almost forgot (and this may make you laugh): I answered an ad recently that, after listing all the usual criteria, wanted to know “where you learnt to write and who you learnt from.”

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