If there’s a positive side to this, it’s that I would never assume that I don’t need an expert opinion on a difficult topic. I would never for a moment assume that I could "get" whatever it is. I would never say something stupid like, "I’ve had enough of experts."
Behind the belief that I can’t learn is, I think, a nihilistic sense that I am probably wrong anyway, so why bother. Sometimes, even when I know something to be true, I let other people tell me I’m wrong because I think it is impossible that I might not be. It’s a way of avoiding conflict. I’d rather be trampled on than say what I know to be true. It isn’t worth causing a fight when I’m so unsure of myself and what I am saying.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t my fault. I am always as innocent as a butterfly.
The problem of course is that this means I can’t claim my work. If there were something wrong with it, it would be harder to worm out of the responsibility for the mistake. I don’t just say: "This is mine, right or wrong. This is what I did."
Piecing all this together reveals such a desperation. I am desperate to keep things clean, to keep up appearances, to make sure it looks like that nothing is ever out of place. I can’t engage, I won’t engage, because I can’t entertain the possibility of being wrong.
I was reflecting on that while, at work, I was handing over projects to my successor as I prepared to start a new job within my team. I realised that in the last nine months at work I've been, some days better than others, learning. How to read a contract, how to decipher meaning that isn't immediately apparent to me by going over a text more than once, how to read language that's dry and sometimes oddly worded.
I have learned these things in spite of myself. That is, I could only learn them when I wasn’t being myself. I didn't do my dissertation my way. I have done my job my way some days, and on those days I fail. Other days I don't. Now I'm getting to see that when I practice, I can and actually do learn.
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