Everyone, at some point, develops their “life philosophy”; the ideas and values that defines who they are. What’s to say mine are any more “right” or valuable than what other people have to say?
What gives my views credibility is the way in which they were developed. My views have developed from years of introspection, tons of failure, and successful and failed relationships with others. While many people become “stuck in their ways”, I was able to become unstuck from my ways, and develop a mindset that has served me well. Let me explain:
Through much of my life, I was a strange combination of shy and naively confident. I generally felt inferior to my peers, who often epitomized the model “cool” personality of my age. I knew there were certain things I liked: public speaking, business, politics, etc.; but none of those seemed to jibe with the social norm of my age. In general, I approached things with a “can’t do” attitude. I wasn’t cool enough to join a fraternity or go to parties in college. Even though I wanted to start a business, I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have enough experience.
Those things that I did feel confidently about, I was very narrow minded about. No one could, for example, convince me that anything good could ever come from a Democratic politician, or that any major in school short of business or engineering was worth pursuing. I would never consider the idea of living abroad (thinking instead that staying in my hometown for the rest of my life was the right thing to do).
In other words, I felt either insecure with my surroundings, or sure of myself without reasonable cause to do so.
About sophomore year in college, things began to change. I think the biggest impetus was from my relationships. I met my girlfriend that year: she is an individual who, even though was my own age, had experiences much more expansive and interesting than my own. She had moved here from China at a young age, and in high school lived and studied in Japan for a semester.
While I spoke of being unable to fit in with others, she said it was my own misguided views and erred sense of superiority that kept me from relating with them. When I moaned over the impossibility of starting my own business, she thought of business ideas I could implement today, if only I wanted to. When I talked about accounting as being the only worthwhile collegiate undertaking, she pointed to the scores of others who had been successful with many other backgrounds.
Wow. This was quite a change of perspective. Who was right, who was wrong? At first, I was sure I was right. After all, I loved arguing and debating, and was glad to try again. But after a while, a morbid thought creeped into my mind; one day lightly, but more strongly day by day. What if my worldview, and a large number of things I thought were true…were actually completely wrong?
As the fear gave way to pensiveness, I realized that my certainty (and uncertainly) arose only from two things: ignorance, and a lack of confidence. What could I do change my mindset?
Continued on R.C. Part 2- New ideas I developed, and how they’ve helped me.