My long weekend of conventioneering has come to a close. I can now go back to a household routine of television and meals and chores. I could read books or play games, but I will spend more of my free time reading articles I find online. In doing so, I absorb facts and opinions from many sources while being entertained, but I retain very little new knowledge that way. To learn something new, I do best to attend a lecture or watch a demonstration while I take notes.
Several of the convention panels were informational, led by people who frequently insisted that they were not experts. They were fans and aficionados, some I might call scholars, and the few who were professionals in their respective fields were vastly outnumbered by the hobbyists. Relative to me, they were all experts. Many of them brought props or showed slides; many of them also read from note cards. They apologized, as if an expert would be able to speak for 50 minutes without forgetting important bullet points, or that an expert would have a mythically superior set of visuals to display on a projector screen. To me, it was all good.
After experiencing all this information dump, I am left wondering what kind of an expert I would make, or rather, what kind of panel could I lead or lecture I could give. What am I an expert in? (Certainly not grammar, which would insist on the structure, “In what [subject] am I an expert?”) I have plenty of shallow experience in a wide range of fields, but not much depth in any one area. A lot of my professional knowledge has been rendered obsolete over the years, leaving me with personal interests but no more expertise than what other fans and hobbyists have.
It’s not like I have no skills at all. I am able to hold up my end of a conversation with intellectuals, and people do ask me for advice and my opinion on matters. I just don’t think I have any unique wisdom to fill a book or impart as a lecturer. This is beginning to make me feel lacking in some way, like I have failed to fulfill my destiny. Is it important to be considered an expert in something, anything, after reaching a certain age?
Or perhaps I really am an expert at all the little things I spend so much of my time doing. I am like the hobbyists at the convention panels, apologizing for not being the absolute professional encyclopedia of knowledge in the things I do know well. The reality is that there are people out there for whom I am good enough to be their expert. I just have to find them!