Life has a funny way of surprising you
It constantly surprises me. I’m surprised by where I live – I never expected to end up in Amsterdam. I’m surprised by how I got here – I moved here with my ex, who I expected to have a long and adult relationship with (as opposed to vice versa).
I’m surprised by what I do – I studied American history but I now work as a tour guide, coaxing groups of bewildered looking tourists around the city on everything from the Amsterdam Coffeeshop Crawl to the Amsterdam history tour.
Without a doubt the most bizarre thing I’ve caught myself doing is the Amsterdam Comedy workshop. I am not a professional comedian. I was saved by my ability to spin a yarn. Have you ever heard the one about the hunter, the bears and the bush?
Rule one – look like you know what you’re doing
When I was younger my Grandfather gave me a piece of advice that has stayed with me my entire life. He told me “no one knows that you don’t know what you’re doing except you. If you project confidence, if you speak like you expect people to listen, they will listen, and nine times out of ten, they won’t question.”
While this is fairly worrying advice to receive from a senior building safety inspector, I’ve discovered it is surprisingly true. I have got a long way in life, and out of some bloody sticky situations, simply by confidently asserting that I know what I’m on about. I think the reason for this, at its core, is that most people want to listen.
Most people want a sense of direction, and aren’t interested in the stress of providing it for them. Besides this most people have a healthy dose of the “well this guy’s the expert” attitude.
So when I set out on an Amsterdam coffee shop crawl, or step up to the stage to run an Amsterdam comedy workshop, providing I bleed certainty into the world around me, no one bats an eye lid.
Rule two – life is a risky business
The problems come when the problems come, without wanting to get too zen. It’s easy to seem confident when things are going right, but e the moment the wheels start coming off the bus, that impressive visage of confidence you’ve been presenting can crumble like a Victoria sponge in a thunderstorm.
But this is precisely when you need it most – you need to double down and roll with it. Taking responsibility and throwing yourself in the deep end can put you in hot water, but in the end, what it promises that speaks to me more than anything is a more interesting life. I know guys back where I’m from who have never been more than 200 miles from the city they were born in.
I’ve been from one side of the world to the other, and while there have been times it was terrifying, it was never regrettable. So my advice is to keep pretending like you know what you’re doing, and see where it take you!