Amateur Terror

I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I wanted to be a pro.

Amateurs are just indulgent dilettantes in my book.  They are in it for their own purposes, having a good time, staying comfortable, indulging their whims.

Professionals, though, well, they are in it to win it.  They want to get better, sharper, more skilled, more aware, more confident and more competent everyday.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think being a pro had to be the goal.

Amateurs scared me, always did, because they were so essentially unreliable.   They didn’t know how to be good team members, weren’t committed to learning and growing, and were always into themselves.

I learned early the progression: dependence, independence, interdependence.  Pros understand interdependence in their bones.   They know that they can’t depend on people to take care of them, but they can’t just go it alone either.   Pros have to play their part while trusting that others will also do their job, coming together to get stronger and more effective everyday.

My family, well, they weren’t pros.   My mother wanted people to take care of her.   For my father it was his way or no way, not because he was domineering but because he really couldn’t anyone elses vision.   My brother turned into an appendage of my sister-in-law, learning to satisfy her instead of being a pro.  And my sister is often lost in her own feelings, feelings she doesn’t really own.

They taught me not to trust amateurs.  They showed me I had to be a pro.   One reason I was such a great translator for them in the hospital is because I knew instantly how to be a pro alongside the other members of the care team, from aides to doctors.    The palliative care lady, who I had to deal with a few times, was amazed at how I could be there to assist them in ways that few families could.  Of course.  I’m a pro.

My sister blew up at me yesterday, all shame and venom, because I noted that the amateurs she had me help by putting together a website for their upcoming gala dropped the ball.   I wasn’t trying to play the blame game, just noting with a bit of frustration that my work was bypassed for another, unworkable solution.

But she felt the cut deeply.   Her history of not being enough was stirred, so she lashed out in a way that hurt me.

I know, I know.  How unprofessional.   Pros are wholehearted, acknowledging feelings and failures, helping the other person back up and working together to look for a new solution.   Pros solve problems rather than exacerbating them.

I’m interesting now because I approached the world as a professional, committed to ownership, development and growth.   The price I paid in loss I worked hard to translate into competence.   I can be a safe space for others, a teacher and encourager, because I bring a professional approach to relationships, a commitment to the community, to raising everyone’s game.

I remember all those times when I did the easy thing and ended up making a prat of myself, getting knocked in the head.   And I am grateful for those moments, when I turned loss into lessons, achieving greater mastery.

Lessons are what we get when we don’t get what we want.  And according to A Course In Miracles, miracles are what we get when those lessons teach us to see the world in a new and clearer way.

The lovely thing about your mother in the sky is that if you miss a lesson, making the comfortable choice rather than the right choice, she is more than willing to repeat the lesson over and over again until you can actually make a better, more considered and more actualized choice.   A more professional choice.

Now, lots of people don’t understand why that process is a lovely thing.   Somehow, getting bopped over the head again and again until they make a better choice doesn’t seem like a gift to them.  They really don’t have the whole practice of gratitude down.

Those people?   They are amateurs at the art of life.   And they scare me.

I know why I want to be a pro.   And I know why I hate having to clean up after amateurs, hate having amateurs work to silence me rather than engage, respect and honour my contributions.  My acute situational awareness is part of what I developed as a professional, but the first thing I always have to use it for is to scan for amateurs who will crack and act out under load.

I figured out early that being a pro was the best thing I could do.  And I also figured out that the people who were the most dangerous were amateurs who just chose not to see the whole picture and their part in it, chose not to respect our essential interdependence.  They would be the ones looking to blame rather than to learn, looking to accuse rather than grow.

I have enough scars from that behaviour, thank you.

But I will pick myself up, learn from my mistakes and work the process the best I can.


Because I’m a pro, that’s why.