Unhealed Wounds

How to tell when your recovery is incomplete:

Greg Laden posted a Wellstone quote about equality on his blog yesterday. One of the commenters suggested that Wellstone meant equality for everyone but Wellstone. I very, very, very carefully did not rip said commenter’s heart from his ribcage and feed it to him, but only because he clearly didn’t know who he was talking about. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a good use for the adrenaline spike just at the moment. Time for a walk, I think.

Update: The walk helped, but not as much as hearing the busker in the skyway singing Obama’s praises. I don’t know whether he was secure in his audience or just so committed that he didn’t care whether he got any tips during that song, but either is fine by me. Hurrah for unbridled enthusiasm!

Specialist Envy

I am not a specialist. I’m a generalist and a good one. My primary skill is learning. I break unfamiliar tasks down quickly and optimize and mechanize processes. I read material aimed beyond my knowledge because I can mostly fill in background from what’s implied as well as what’s stated, and I know how to spot what I’m missing and have to look up. I synthesize and project ridiculously well. Drop me into unfamiliar chaos, and I start tidying, building a coherent whole from the scattered pieces, even while my hindbrain screams in panic that the task is impossible. It’s just what I do.

But oh, I must admit to a bit of the generalist’s envy of specialists. I sit down with someone who knows their field inside and out and I feel like an unschooled child. Following along suddenly seems like faking it. Not having that kind of command of anything, I feel just a wee bit useless.

I could make myself feel better by changing the subject, talking about things I do know, where the specialist would be the one having to follow. I don’t lack options for other topics. But I never do it. The generalist in me can’t let these opportunities pass (knowledge, resources, ooh!), no matter how uncomfortable they are.

I try to tell myself I shouldn’t be uncomfortable. I remind myself, in between moments of paying very close attention, of everything I said above. Under the envy, I do know my strengths and that they’re not inconsiderable and that they’re not really compatible with the dedication being a specialist requires. I know I’m a very good generalist.

But oh, why can’t I be a specialist too?