Some dictionary meanings first:-
Amateur: a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity.
Amateur: a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.
To go with the above, there is a supporting cast of synonyms, antonyms, and words related to amateur, such as: abecedarian, apprentice, aspirant, beginner, dabbler, and dilettante.
It is obvious that there is no quest anywhere to crown the word amateur in glory. The world needs perfectionists and professionals, the ones who have been there done that.
The word amateur doesn’t get a lot of love these days. When we hear “amateur,” we think of a dabbler—someone unskilled and undisciplined who flutters from one hobby to another.
Now, let us take a look t the origin of the word amateur: it came from the Latin word ‘amare‘, which means to love. To do things for the love of it. And, there is(gratefully) an audience that is coaxing and encouraging us to love what you do, and do what you love. Follow your heart, without wanting to hang onto the coattails of outcomes. Small, consistent progress is what takes the amateur to professional status(if she so chooses to).
So, amateur is NOT a dirty word.
It comes with almost unabashed freedom. The best time in your life to create, take the plunge, begin a new chapter, following your heart without the rabid pressure of expectation. Don’t overlook or undervalue the gift of this time. And still we use amateur as if it’s a dirty word.
Being an amateur goes hand in hand with having a beginner’s mindset, when you are fanning your childlike curiosity, exploring, discovering and taking those small or big leaps of faith. Once we are established, we are governed more and more by outcomes and that comes with rigidity, close mindedness, the enemies of creation. So, hang onto that phase of your life where you edify your amateur self. Create, ship out. Rinse, repeat!
Never be afraid to try something new.“Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic”— Dave Barry
Considered “a man of colossal genius” by George Bernard Shaw, G.K. Chesterton was a prolific writer— publishing 80 books, 200 short stories, and over 4,000 essays in his lifetime. And in those prolific writings, Chesterton gave special meaning to the amateur over the professional, to the generalist over the specialist.
In his Autobiography, Chesterton writes of his father:
” To us (children) he appeared to be indeed The Man with the Golden Key, the magician opening the gates of goblin castles . . . but all this time he was known to the world, and even to the next door neighbors, as a very reliable and capable, though rather unambitious businessman. It was a very good lesson in what is also the last lesson in life: that in everything that matters, the inside is much larger than the outside. On the whole, I am glad that he was never a professional artist. It might have stood in his way of becoming an amateur. It might have spoilt his career—his private career.
Take the tech industry, for example. Google, Microsoft, Facebook—all of these big companies were started by amateurs. And then there’s Wikipedia, which, despite being run (almost) entirely by amateurs, has replaced the eminent and professional Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
The internet has shown us there are people willing to make things with no immediate benefit at all. And they do pretty damn good job of it.
The amateur is back.