Recently I was invited to give a talk about my Six Favourite Books (a deliciously hard choice to make). I had to talk about the books and why I had chosen them. It was a book version of Desert Island Discs (which, if you are not familiar with this radio programme, then I order you to listen to NOW…). It sounded fun.
I like books. I’ve read more than six. I’m quite happy giving talks. So why did I feel so nervous on my way to the event?
Because I am not an expert.
I am not a “Literary Critic”. I am not a professional “Book Person”. I found Joyce’s Ulysses boring and I loved the Da Vinci Code. I felt that I did not belong in this lofty world. I realised that, despite having written five books, I cannot, in all honesty, think of myself as a proper “writer”. So what right do I have to talk about Good Books?
I have every right.
I only realised this several minutes into my talk. I noticed that I was no longer nervous and that the audience were actually interested in what I was saying.
I had been invited to talk about my favourite books and why I liked them. I was perfectly well qualified to do that. I was not claiming to be more than I am. I was not exaggerating or imposing.
If I am ever asked to do a similar event I will be able to do it better next time; more concisely, more articulately, more professionally. But the word “amateur” derives from the word for “lover of”. It is not about being worse than professional. There is nothing wrong with being an amateur.
So here is the thing: I am inviting you to the party.
Whether you want to talk about books or do big adventures, you belong if you want to belong.
All you have to do to be an Adventurer is print business cards saying “Adventurer”. (That’s not actually true. What you really need to do is go on adventures. People often make this mistake. But if the business cards boost your self-confidence, then go for it!)
I am officially inviting you to the party. To whatever party you want. So now you don’t need to feel as though you don’t belong. Whichever world you want to be a part of: just show up. Begin. Begin to the best of your amateur ability. Love it. Work hard at it. Get better at it. But make sure you show up.