Unprepared for Brunch: Too Much Self Improvement

Unprepared for Brunch: Too Much Self Improvement

I never thought of self-improvement as a particularly American or female trait, as described in this recent New York Times article, but American or not, I have a deeply embedded desire to better myself. I will give you a recent example of what I have been trying to improve: my news intake.

Recently, I have come up against what I call the unprepared for brunch phenomenon. A weekend morning rolls around, and I take myself to meet xyz friends, and we'll discuss the latest events of our lives, the world, etc. We'll share experiences and tidbits of "did you know" and generally come away with a sense of pleasure that we have intelligent and in the know friends. Did you know that Johnny Depp's latest movie, The Rum Diary, would never have been made if not for him? Did you know that mixed media jackets are the hotness for fall?

But there are certain topics, with no obvious organizing genre, that if you do NOT know, inspire a certain goggle eyed reaction of "REALLY?? You haven't heard of ____?" This experience happened to me first in April, when in the same brunch, it was revealed I had not heard of either Rebecca Black or super injunctions, which caused the host of the brunch to say with some embarrassment, "You'll have to excuse her. She's been out of the country."

In these instances, I could blame my friends for being harsh and move on. As one pseudo intellectual friend responded when I asked if he had heard of Rebecca Black, "Did they cover her in the FT?" But instead, I embarked on a campaign to improve #gapsindianechang'sknowledge. I subscribed to 10 more publications on Twitter and resolved to read the feed on the bus every morning. I polled my friends to find out their news sources. I sporadically listened to BBC radiocasts on BBC iplayer online and perused the Sunday New York Times on Sunday night to make sure I didn't miss the main events.

Yet, what came up in my polling of my friends to ask about how they get their news was most people's unfamiliarity with the 'unprepared for brunch' phenomenon. 'Of course you won't know everything,' they say. 'It's fine.'

So when I came upon this liberating article in the Sunday New York Times last week about how the desire for self improvement can be the blocker for self acceptance, I realized that I was on a frivolous and inane mission to avoid ever being caught off guard about one of those 'must know' topics, especially when what is 'must know' is completely subjective. A securities lawyer best friend of mine was stunned I didn't know the latest debates on the Dodd - Frank bill*, but I suppose I could have played a good offense and asked her if she knew the latest reported features of Amazon's Kindle Fire. And the article sparked a larger realisation that self improvement, while noble in definition, can be taken to a certain extreme when it actually precludes self-acceptance. Interestingly, the article also mentions the females in particular take the idea of self-improvement as having to do everything not only better, but perfectly. True?

So my main takeaway is: keep the mission for self-improvement in perspective. In the interest of preparing you for brunch, however, here are the top ten rising searches on Google UK. Be careful, though, because these topics will expire quickly. As a friend remarked, "The one day I didn't read the news, Gaddafi died."

*Dodd - Frank: Key legislation, passed in 2010, to reform financial regulation in the US. Google it for more info.