Yesterday I had a crappy day. Really, really crappy. I’ve been given an assignment at the newspaper that has left me feeling over my head and completely lost – why do I have to be the one to do a multi-part series on the economy when I know absolutely jack-all about the economy?!?!? In fact, I know so little that I don’t even know how to ask an intelligent question to get started.
Which is exactly where the breakdown happened yesterday – I felt too stupid to figure out how to begin getting educated. I don’t need a Master’s level education – I don’t even need a 300-page book…I just need to understand enough basics to decode the charts I’m looking at understand the particulars of some terms that are getting thrown around that everyone seems to understand but me. I couldn’t make heads or tails of any of the explanations I found online and I was afraid that if I asked anyone, they would start lecturing to me way over my head. I was feeling STUPID. Plain and simple. Too stupid to be of any use.
As I was whining and crying to a friend about how it would never get better because I’d never get any smarter, I remembered this little anecdote…
Several years ago I needed to file paperwork to form an LLC. I had no idea what I was doing, so I found an entertainment lawyer to help me. I spent a couple of weeks gathering absolutely everything I could imagine he would possibly need so I wouldn’t be unprepared. When I went in for my appointment he looked everything over and said, “Why did you hire me? You’re the most prepared client I’ve ever seen.”
This has been my pattern – to absolutely freak myself out beyond all proportion or reason in a desperate effort to not look stupid, and then to have conquered the problem without realizing it, but unable to recognize my own accomplishment because I’m still leaning on other people to make it better for me.
Clearly there needs to be a new pattern.
So this morning I got up and put on a bright orange shirt (I don’t know why that seems relevant, but it is!) and my dragon necklace. I don’t wear that necklace often, but it has a lot of meaning and power for me. I used to wear it during exams in high school and college when I was really scared and I always did okay. This morning I put it on and I said, “I CAN DO ANYTHING!!!”
And you know what I did today? I contacted economics professors at two local colleges to ask if they will sit down with me and give me a basic primer (in layman’s language!) on the basics that I need in order to do these stories.
That wasn’t so hard – but it required me to lay down my mantle of feeling stupid and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to ask. And in the asking I realized…it didn’t feel so bad! In fact, it felt empowering to find the right person and ask the right question. I haven’t heard back from either of them yet, but I’m feeling much more confident in my ability to get what I need to do the job at hand.