Photo Credit: GBCDecatur.org
There is a mysterious phenomena where a person can do something X amount of times and fail whereas out of the blue they end up succeeding. To what do we attribute such a mixed bag out of one person? Aren't people fairly consistent as a whole? Is a cheater really always a cheater because of WHO he or she is, or because of the people who never change their mind about that said offender?
How come one person can get the best version of a wife and the husband can get the worst? How come children get great reports at school and perplex their parents with obstinate behavior at home? Why can't people be the same across the board? Why does it hurt so much to get the short end of the relational stick?
This very conundrum has plague me about myself and others for some time. In fact it touches on changes in self perception and identity. I'll use myself as the example: How can an Asian do very strongly in high school and find college so daunting? Is that really salient enough to warrant changing how I identify myself? Most of my life I identified myself (as well as in the eyes of others) as a nerd with much promise in life. I'm not saying I got voted most likely to succeed, but I did get distinguished opportunities like being a school representative for Massachusetts Girls State. I petitioned to do an AP class as an independent study and was able to do it successfully.
This inconsistency in my academic career was enough to make me shy away from ever doing it again for a good 12 years! I was afraid to prove this worse version of me if I repeated such a performance later in my life. Yet out of school, I continued to read high level literature, found every situation an opportunity to learn, spent time in "independent study" so to speak taking voice lessons, an art lesson or two and a few months taking gymnastics as a late twenty something. I even took a master's level teaching class with the approval of my hiring principal when I hadn't received a bachelor's degree. I was forced to go down new avenues without the luxury of first acclimating with it in the world of academia.
Lucky for me, when my counselor urged me to go back to school- I finally took the plunge. It was scary. I wasn't sure which version of me would come out on top. Not without challenge and timidity, I proved the first version of me to be true. I looked back and saw that that time of inconsistency was a huge time of stress and revelation in my life. I was not prepared to be a student AND take on the new quasi-adult world I was thrown into without the direction of my parents.
As an additional example, I've seen this fear in other people in my life. A fear of failing- AGAIN. A fear of having to judge oneself harshly and possibly change our self concept. That is a painful prospect. But for me, I realized that the safeguard to repeated failure is to first, of course, not do the same thing but also to have a positive vision for yourself. Or, let's say you have a loved one that is afraid to take that leap- I urge you to have a favorable vision for them as well- so much so that it is contagious and future telling.
My marriage is a testament to that principle. I did it for my husband and he's done it for me. We think the other is the most able, valuable and unique. We don't judge each other based on our past. It has been the most redemptive relationship that God has ever provided or will provide for me. It's that future positive mentality, at least for each other, that is a driving force for personal AND relational growth. May today's drudgery increase the glory for your future. I think that the healthiest mindset is to value everything you experience more than the things you have. And when you want something, try to satisfy that with something you already have materially.
As scary as it is to experience these events that challenge our self concept, I hope they give us (you) reassurance of who you are and how you are uniquely brilliant. Give it a try. Failure is permanent if you give up. Otherwise, suspend judgment and do/create. Like Bruce Ballinger, author of "The Curious Writer", suggests: ALTERNATE between judgement and creativity because they counteract each other. Do one at a time. Trust in that idea. Dare to take another stab at it... just not in the same exact way.
So- I challenge you readers to see your loved ones in the best light; even before they give you reason to. That intentional discipline could be the best gift you give to your child, parent, friend or spouse. There is nothing to lose from helping them lock on to a positive life trajectory- you will also benefit from their victory. Nothing is quite valued as much as knowing someone believed in you even when you didn't. Wouldn't you want to influence someone in that magical way as well?
[I pray a humble message over my readers. I pray that they dare to change their minds about that one person in their life that bothers them the most. I'd argue that hope is the most valuable ingredient to future success. It doesn't cost a thing. You could be responsible for someone turning their life around or for the Pygmalion Effect (a psychological concept). As far as I'm concerned, that is what Jesus did for us. He saw value in us, even as sinners. He believed that our best "act" was yet to come. I am so thankful for that... Amen.]
#believethebest #facingfear #selfconcept
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