Today, we had the most beautiful, heavy, wet snowfall and I couldn’t resist the urge to go out and take some photos. Luckily, today was the first day of my 365 photo challenge and I knew just where to go to capture my first prompt, which was “tree”.
I grabbed my camera and checked the ISO to make sure I wasn’t going to have a bunch of blown out photos. I’m not technically savvy with my camera yet, but I know enough to check the light. I was wanting to capture the falling snow, so I set my shutter speed low and started snapping away. Half way through, because I don’t look at every shot right away, I discovered that all my photos looked like they had white streaks. Not exactly what I was going for. So then I moved my shutter speed up and voilá! Snowflakes instead of streaks. I felt pretty stupid, but that’s what practice is all about: learning from your mistakes.
I’ve been a know-it-all most my life. Not that I know it all, really. I am, as they say, “A Jill of all trades, master of none.” I know a lot of little things, but not a lot about anything. A lot of it comes from being the oldest child, however, I also grew up in a chaotic, insecure household and I felt it was my duty to try to make everyone happy and fix things. I had to know things in order to fix things.
This need to make things better or to help people has carried over into the rest of my life. I’m not a know-it-all to be right or prove how smart I am. I’m a know-it-all to try to fix things for people. If someone is talking about a problem they have, I will offer what I know about the subject and if I don’t know, then I’ll research the heck out of it to find something to help.
When I started working at the lab, I discovered that I was not the only know-it-all. In fact, most of the people working there were know-it-alls and they were also smarter than I am. I’m fine with people knowing more than I do. I’m not competitive like that. However, it felt like every statement I made was challenged by one person or another. I couldn’t often back things up with more facts off the top of my head, because I am a big picture person. I don’t do details, but these people were scientists and they want everything to be backed up by facts and data. So, feeling insecure, I’d either Google it to back up what I said or else I’d simply drop the subject. More often than not, I’d just walk away. I’m not much of a debater either.
And it’s not just the scientists that do this. It seems as if everyone has done everything and they know more than I do about virtually everything. Every time I find out something new I like to share – because that’s how I roll – but it always seems to be met with indifference and boredom, as if I’m an idiot for not knowing that already. People’s disinterest in my newfound discovery diminishes my enjoyment of it. I wanted to tell someone my story about the shutter speed fiasco, but I knew that, if I mentioned it, I would be met with a blank stare and some statement about how they had that same problem a long time ago, when they first started doing photography, but now they are so far beyond that. So I kept my mouth shut. (Until now. You guys don’t sass me much.) And it dawned on me that that’s how I made other people feel with my own know-it-allness. I diminished their feelings with all my “help”.
Native medicine people never offer unsolicited advice or offer to perform ceremony for a person, even if they know they’re suffering. Part of the ceremony is in the asking. If someone needs help, they take tobacco to the medicine man and ask him for what they need. I’m no medicine person, but that’s what I’m going to do from now on. If someone wants my advice or help, I’ll let them ask.
Remember how proud you felt when you were little and you figured something out all by yourself? You ran as fast as you could to tell somebody, usually mom or dad, and they pretended like they didn’t know this new thing you discovered and praised you for being so smart. It’s the same when you’re an adult. It’s fun to figure things out on your own and it gives you a sense of pride when you worked hard and did it yourself. People simply want someone to listen and not belittle their feelings or diminish their sense of accomplishment.
I may know it all, but I’ve decided to quit being a knowing it all. Half the fun of life is discovering new things and I want everyone to have as much fun learning as I do. I’ll no longer be doling out unsolicited advice, so if you want my opinion or words of wisdom, you’ll have to ask me for it.