Before you can discover things about yourself, you have to rule out the things you already know. Simple, right? To be honest, maybe not. Some of the things you never thought would change, have. Others you knew would change, have not. Which is which? Where does the road really fork?
It is debatable whether growing up is mandatory in light of some of the boneheaded decisions we occasionally make, some of the habits we never shed and some of the juvenile things we engage well beyond the age when they are no longer socially acceptable.
What are some of the things you have moved away from since you were a teenager?
- 40 is ancient.
- The more skin I show, the sexier I am.
- The more I copy the fad, the more I show my individuality.
- Parents are the stupidest breed. (This may have morphed.)
- I can do anything, so doing everything is where I will succeed.
As we age, we realize life does not end when we reach a certain birthday, even though we had access to annoying studies proving the average age at death well into the 70s. Some of us mature as fashionistas and realize fit and function are far more important than fad.
We realize our parents were not so stupid after all when our little darling is yowling, but we realize our BFF may be the world’s stupidest parent. Sometimes, we realize it is better to be very good at a few things than to be marginal (or worse) at many.
Twenties and Hundreds
Money is another subject whose view is changed as we morphed from the 10-foot-tall, bulletproof and invisible teen to the age of majority. Sadly, many do not learn the basic elements of fiduciary until the wallet and bank accounts are empty and the maxed credit card bill is due.
Even more sad are those who never do grasp the concept of money, either earning or spending it responsibly. On rare occasions, the spendthrift finds a Mate with stellar budgeting skills to mitigate the monetary apocalypse.
Other People’s Children
From cradle to grave, everyone is someone’s child. Even if you do not know who populates your family tree, human reproduction is fairly simple: Everyone has a family. Dealing with our own families prepares us for integration into the global family, or at least it should.
It molds our opinions which become immutable parts of our character and superfluous cogs we eventually remove from our psychological machine. How well the machine runs determines how well we accommodate, tolerate and engage other people’s children, in other words, everyone else.
In our foray into identity, we isolated some of the cogs. Instead of revisiting all of the facets of how we portray ourselves, we need to look at ourselves without regard to Mate, Quaint, Parent or Child. Yes, this is all about you.
You have already answered who you are to the outside world. How precisely does that apply to you? More importantly, how does that apply to happiness?
Resolutions get a really bad reputation as short-lived ideas we concoct to make ourselves better, whether for ourselves or for someone else. The biggest problem with resolutions is we often are forced into making them according to tradition or because we are trying to fit into (social circles, marriage, job).
What if your resolution was to be the most authentic you imaginable? Make the resolution to be true to yourself. You have already made the list, which identified the things which detract from the authentic you.
Instead of making another list, allow yourself the breathing room to experience the activities on the list. Lay aside the expectations. What you are doing is the only thing in the moment. Savor the journey. Form an opinion of yourself.
- Is this making me feel good about myself?
- Has this taught me I want to be (more, better, less)?
- This does not become me. I will not repeat it.
- This exemplifies who I am. I will repeat it.
- This is a necessary step in becoming more authentic.
The last choice is the hardest to accept. Before we get to our destination, we often travel to places where we wish we had never gone. For some, it is an educational institution. For others, it is a religious establishment. Still others, it is a marriage.
Not everything we learn is about the place. The important lesson in all of the places we prefer not to revisit is what we learn about ourselves while we are there.
- Was it the school or the way I felt about the professor?
- Was it the church or the actions of the members?
- Was it marriage or Mate or me?
- Was it not what I expected?
How we deal with other people’s children applies everywhere we go. Many times the places themselves are not nearly as important as the people we encounter. How much did your favorite professor change the way you think about things even today? How much does fellowship change your view of spirituality? How did your first love influence the way you love others?
On the Money
Maybe, it was exactly what you expected. What you did not expect was your reaction to it. Think of it as a recipe gone horridly awry. You knew you loved pancakes, cabbage and cucumbers, but the thought of pickled pancakes with a topper of sauerkraut turns everyone’s stomach.
Judging your reaction to things is a learning experience, but anticipating your reaction is self-realizing.
Name one time your reaction was not what you expected. What did you learn about yourself?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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