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Competence

Figure 1:  Daryl Dixon, figuring shit out.

Figure 1: Daryl Dixon, figuring shit out.

 

I’m thinking about competence, lately. For book #2. Competence, masculinity, what it means to be an adult: these are the things on my mind.

I just turned 39 years old. I’m married. I live in a house. I have a daughter. I have a dog. I have life insurance. I worry about what the neighbors might think. I recycle.

So, I’m grown. But I am still unsure what it means to be competent. A lot of the time I feel incompetent. Like I’m just making everything up. Faking it.

Like, I make lists of things that Adrian can do and I can’t. (This isn’t an exercise I would recommend. Adrian can do EVERYTHING.)

Then I try to think of what I’m good at. Like, really really good at. Something I’d get paid to do by third parties. This doesn’t take very long to list.

But that’s my self-deprecating bullshit, as usual. I’m very good at soothing my daughter. At cheering her up. I’m very good at encouraging my friends and my students. I’m very polite to strangers. I’m good at words, and not just written ones. On the infrequent occasions I decide to be social, I am very entertaining company, I feel. I am intensely concerned with being honest and real while not being a fucking asshole.

So, enchantment. That is my main skill.

But that is hard to quantify. To list on a resume.

Competence, it seems, is a man’s word. Task-oriented. Can you lift this? Can you top that? Can you hit that target? Can you bluff at cards? Can you make a dog come when you call it? Can you drink all that and still stand?

Magic tricks, then. Riddles and challenges. Another kind of enchantment.

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