When you are in primary and secondary school, your time is gulped up by what you are supposed to do for the next step: School. More school. College. Job. You have the daily task of drudgingly rolling out of bed, racing time to catch the bus, while hearing the constant reminders from your parents to hurry up. Some time afterward, you scurry through the hallways of your school in a race to beat the rapidly approaching “bzzzz” of the bell that signals the start of the weekday routine you share with your fellow classmates.
As you daydream in school, staring blankly at the scribbles on the board, or peer through the window in an effort to collect your seemingly incoherent thoughts, or start your periodic habit of fixating your gaze to the selfishly-slow ticking of the clock, you become a sitting duck on a quest you are born into: a quest to be yourself. As a majority of your day is swallowed up by partial concentration on the wandering words of your teachers’ lesson, your days in the classroom become a blur of nagging irritations that settle themselves at the back of your head. What you really remember from your 12-year school experience are the goofy moments you have with friends, the award ceremonies acknowledging your accomplishments in comparison to your peers, and the wonderfully random conversations you share with your classmates, friends, and teammates.
You may also recall times of enthusiasm you felt in the daily learning experience that you encountered in the classic classroom environments. BUT rather than valuing the endless words and readings that are fed to you, you value something else entirely. What you actually value are certain high scores on assignments you are given, the occasional praise your teachers publicly give to your answer, and the inevitable jokes that class-clowns shamelessly volley class after class. In order to hit the heart of what you value, you need to go back to those days where you felt worthless and remember “what” stole away your self-worth at these times. Personally for me, the “worst” days of my grade school experience were characterized by either of 3 common culprits:
- Those drowsy days that would I drift through where I didn’t feel an inkling of motivation to focus and all I looked forward to was the approach of the last class period of the day. Even further, there would be this nagging thought that the cost of spacing out would lead me into a game of “catch up” in the subsequent days.
- Those excessively boring days when fed-up teachers and substitutes diminished class by giving out busy work and/or sought silence for the class period.
- Those days when the collective immaturity of students resulted in a discouraging atmosphere where I questioned where I fit into the mix of school’s many fictional social groups.
When you truly falter, you realize what you value, but with the limited experiences you have had in your few years, all you have to fall back on is the idea of “Well… I do have to be here, after all. I might as well try to make the best of it.” Unfortunately, the definition of “best” translates to how smart you are (judged by teachers), how cool you are (determined by popularity. judged by fellow students), how likely you are to succeed (based on the above factors). What you think is “best” is what you have observed that the archetypical “best” people are.
Oftentimes, you can overcome the various stigmas that come with being yourself, but at the end of the day, you place your guiding faith/belief in a group of tangled voices that are experienced in some ways; however, they are extraordinarily naive in respect to how to motivate you and how to foster the creativity in you. At least, the vast majority of the voices do not.
If you courageously look back and ignore the universally felt overwhelmingness of school years, especially teenage years of your life, why do you value certain teachers? You value them because they openly told you their stories and you could relate to them in some way. You value them because one day they complimented you on something that they thought was unique and special about you. You value them because you could walk into their classroom and they were open to understanding you as a person and as an adult, rather than simply one in a sea of students.
So Why Shouldn’t You Trust Yourself?
Because what you think is yourself may not be yourself.
- You are who you surround yourself with. Since you don’t often make the decision of where you are born, which town you grow up in, and the values of those who you spend the most time with, what you think is best for you may very well not be what you TRULY value.
- What you value is based on what you *feel* you should be valuing, not what you *think* you should be valuing. Try something different and new to you, then see how you feel.
- It is easier to value what other people see as success because then you have a measure of success (by comparing yourself to others).
- No one in the world knows what their perfect path should be. They just make a series of decisions and move from one stage to another. People who say “I’ll give you advise, but take it with a grain of salt” are those who understand and respect this fact.
- It is natural to plan ahead for failure. When you fail, you would like to know the steps to the process of safely “getting back up again.” Since you are prepared for a safe story, your future is already planned out. Are you Ok with “planned out?”
You should be a hypocrite to yourself because other people deserve to hear your story. Your Own Story.
One way to do this: Next time you see a stranger in the cafeteria, cafe, dining hall, or a frequent passerbyer you never go beyond simply greeting, start a conversation with them. Don’t think about what you will get out of talking to them, just prepare yourself to genuinely take an interest and listen to what they have to say.
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