Three things adulthood taught me
Saturday, January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Had I known these things, I could have saved myself from tons of disappointment, pain, and frustration. What a blissful life that could have been!
On second thought, if I had known them before, I would not have the opportunity of discovering them on my own. And it would feel like shortchanging myself because even though I wasn’t aware of it, I would have escaped from the experiences that could teach me valuable lessons.
But I didn’t know them, that’s the case. And from not knowing to knowing is a journey on its own. Now that I’m done with that phase of my life journey, I have some credibility to share with you three of the things I wish I knew when I was younger but am sort of glad I didn’t.
1. Expecting too much from people is about as good as smashing your heart into million pieces. While others try to lower their expectations, I prefer not to expect at all — from people outside of my intimate relationships, that is. Unguarded expectations are a poison in a category of its own. Let me prove my point. When I expect people to behave toward me in a certain way, I unknowingly put them in a box. And when they don’t act like I expect them to, I end up either keeping a tight rein on them or walking away frustrated. Both options can be a breeding ground for bitterness, anger, and rebellion — poisons that could eventually tarnish a relationship.
People fail, turn their back on their word, and are every bit capable of disappointing others. We are human that way. So to avoid frustrations, and therefore broken relationships, it’s wise to not expect from people too much or not at all. (Of course, this depends on the intimacy level of a relationship; married people, for instance, have every right to expect from their spouses.)
Basically, moderating our expectations is like giving people enough room to grow and learn at their own pace, or act according to what they think is right, providing of course that their perceived “right” is morally sound or justifiable.
Anyway, I learned that if there’s one person from whom we should expect, it’s the One who never fails.
2. Conforming to others’ definition of success can lead to your own failure. If I take other people’s standards of success, I wouldn’t measure up without a doubt. People define success mainly based on their own priorities and goals. Thus, a person whose priority is more about traveling the world and less about getting rich has a different view of success compared to the person whose priority is to be a millionaire by the age of 30.
Problem is, we often don’t have our own definition of success, so we measure ourselves against others’ standards, or worse, against the popular standards. When we think we fail by a large margin, we try to keep up, work ourselves until we bleed empty. Obviously, achieving others’ concept of success not only is far more difficult, it also takes away our joy.
Of course, we can meet others’ standards of success if we’re really serious about it, but we may still feel very empty at the end of the day. The reason being, we aren’t able to meet our deepest priorities and goals, which at this point might still be undefined.
The challenge: write our own definition of success, and it is this that we should strive to meet.
3. Identifying your talents – gifts as they’re often called – is like opening the door to your path. In other words, if you know your talents, and acknowledge them, you’re a step closer to determining which path you should take. They are our hints. If you’re good at baking, you could probably put up your own pastry shop. If you have strong writing skills, then you could be a writer. If you find joy in encouraging people, you may make a good counselor.
I’ve heard of lots of people who have no idea what they should do with their lives. Afraid of “wasting” their lives, they resort to doing things they have no interest in, or worse, they resent, thinking that they may someday “fit in” or finally find along the way what it is they should be doing. It’s sad that they fail to look at their clues, which have been there all along but they neglect to recognize.
Our goal is to search ourselves, know what we’re good at or what we enjoy doing, because only then can we find our gifts waiting to be unleashed. Most of the time, the gifts have already manifested; we only need to embrace them.
Remember, if God has given us gifts, He certainly has use for them. Question is, are we willing to let them be used? Opening the door to our path and stepping into it are two different things.