Sometimes things just get confusing; and I get that it can be about assumptions, but it can also be that people can just be weird.
A little over 11 years ago I got involved in doing this medieval thing. I was in a complicated place in my life (but that is nothing new) and I was on the older side of getting into something like this. I didn't have many expectations coming into it, but read everything I could find online to understand what I was getting into before I first darkened a door (SCA.org). I was coming out of a dysfunctional relationship with a church and really wasn't expecting to be accepted. But I was more than accepted, I found a second family.
But that doesn't mean they aren't confusing, or maybe that is why they are confusing. Take bardic, or performer's guild (because that is a confusion right there, what do we call it). I cam in figuring they would all know way more than me, and some did and some didn't. I figured I wouldn't be good enough, but some people loved what I did. I continued to sing and play my guitar and write an occasional song or poem and learn a new song now and then and I was having fun. I did not expect egg in my beer or to be given shinies.
Then I went to a class that taught about how great bardic circles are and was practically a two hour commercial for how great their bardic circle practically in my backyard was, so I asked about if I could come and was told "Oh, I'm sorry, we're a closed group." So I talked another group who hadn't been meeting for a while into meeting, then ended up being handed the leadership of it. Then stabbed in the back for leading it in the way I thought would be better long term. And while I was finding it a really good place to spark creativity, I heard other well respected performers in the organization practically brag that they "don't go to bardic circles." Confusing.
And while I was being told that what I was doing was enjoyable, I kept hearing people talk about this person or that who could be a professional. But I was doing this just for fun, and was surprised to receive an award, which someone protested. And then other people kept trying to encourage me to do more, reach higher, while other people warned me about bad bards getting duct taped to trees.
Like many things in my life, most notably my spirituality, I have to to return again and again to my personal center. I will always sing and write an occasional song or poem, I can't help it. It is as much a part of me as the curl that likes to flop down right in the middle of my forehead. I know there will always be people who are more talented, more educated, and just better. I don't do this for anyone but me.
Today words flew fast a furious on a bard's Facebook group (and boy are bards good at flinging words) about research and scholarship and winning accolades for being a bard and ways that people have been discouraged and encouraged. When you have a bunch of passionate people, it is understandable that the discussion sometimes gets heated. Some of the words reminded me of the confusions I have felt. Some reminded me of times I felt hurt as well as times I felt encouraged. I'm really glad to know that even those who came out most strongly in favor of the value of keeping scholarship standards high feel that it is equally important to be gentle with newcomers.
And sometimes I'm sad to know that I will never have the ability and learning to aspire to some of the higher awards in this game I play. But there again, like spirituality, I can't judge another person's journey. I'm not asking them to judge mine. I'm just hoping that we can continue to walk the road together in peace, and not duct tape anyone to a tree.