Better Than

Him: How would you rate your excel experience – on a scale of 1 -10, if 3 is a normal.

Me: Excel or VBA?

Him: Both.

Me: 8 and 4. I’m self taught. I know some VBA stuff, but it takes me longer than it should.


It was a strange thing. When I started using excel about 10 years ago, I knew almost nothing. I hadn’t learned it in University, and I just never really had to use it. I use it all the time now. I am the princess of pivot tables, the vice regal of vlookup, the count of charts.

I do a lot now.

I can sort and group and conditional format and solve and create references. I can chart and split and filter.

But it’s still hard. I know I’m good with excel. I know that I whiz around and that I do all sorts of things and I can figure stuff out.

Maybe if I had a certificate. Maybe if I had a nice framed piece of paper that said I had mastered X level of excel. Maybe then.

I looked at that screen on the chat client a long time before I answered. I looked at it for a very long time and I thought really hard.

At times like this, when I’m asked to stand on a limb and rate myself, it always feels like I am waiting. I am waiting for that person to say “you aren’t really qualified. Who do you think you are kidding. What are you doing with the smart people, with the big kids. Back to the world of the minions, where you belong”

When I answer those sorts of questions, I then start to worry. What if I do something and they look at me and think I’m an idiot. What if I don’t know something that is really basic, what if I do something really stupid. What if I make the sort of mistake that you can’t recover from.

It’s a dumb way to live, I’ll admit it. It’s dumb and it’s not based on facts and and and.

And I still do it.

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5 Responses to Better Than

  1. a says:

    Excellent – it’s good to know that I can harass someone other than the poor guy down the hall when I need something changed on my Excel worksheet. Hahahaha – never let on what you know. People will only ask you to do things! 🙂 The guy down the hall made the mistake of reading a visual basic for excel book in my sight line. Now, I have made it part of his job to make my worksheet work the way I want it to.

    Really, though – here’s the thing about life. Everyone (well, maybe I’ve come across one or two people who don’t) has something that they do well. It’s OK to look around and compare your skills to others and find out if you have a basis for your self doubt. Also, the potential to be an idiot is present in everyone, every day. There are few sorts of mistakes you can’t recover from…and people like you better if you make the occasional mistake. Then they get to be better than you, if only for a moment.

  2. HereWeGoAJen says:

    I know exactly what you mean. 🙂

  3. Kristin says:

    I know very little about Excel but I’m self taught about a lot of other computer things (and frequently feel like I’m over-reaching my skills).

  4. Carbon says:

    You > Me when it comes to Excel. I’m self taught too, I tend to learn what I need to learn to accomplish what needs accomplishing. If Google gave certificates, I’m sure we’d have tons of them.

  5. Maureen says:

    I think much in life is self taught. And I think many of the things I have “self learned” I know better than things that I was taught in a class.

    About a year ago, I walked into a patient’s room, and she started quizzing me. How long have I been a therapist? How long have I worked at this hospital? (These two questions come up regularly enough I was not phased) What did the sign on her door say? (It was handwritten, I had read it, and fortunately was able to recite it back close to verbatim. This was odd but my footing was still sure.) How long have I worked with patients with a diagnosis like hers? What kind of experience/courses have I taken with a diagnosis like hers? The last two questions threw me off guard. I became self conscious of all of my actions and was doubting myself. (Later I cursed whoever had seen the person before and didn’t include the patient’s occupation, nor her husband’s, or her son’s… this answered why these questions were asked, and had I known prior to entering the room, I would have been braced). When I was given a chance to show what I could do, I did fine. But I was nervous, and more apt to make a mistake. But really, I, and many times my patient’s learn more from when things don’t go ideally than when they do….

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