Friday, January 6, 2017

Great Expectations... by Gail Roughton

It's the start of a new year, with all the hopes and expectations for ourselves each new year brings. And speaking of expectations, especially for ourselves...

I don't normally blog about serious matters, mostly because I tend to see the humor in all but the most devastating and catastrophic of events and if something's that devastating, it's way beyond my capacity to write about it. But something I read recently about "self-actualization" struck a chord with me, something that in fact could be considered a most serious matter. Be warned, now--I'm the person whose chord was struck, which means you can pretty much chunk serious out the window. Still, there might actually be food for thought here for all but the most severely self-delusional, and please let it be herein noted that I think most of us are delusional to a certain extent and further, I think that comes under the heading of survival.  However, when taken to extremes it's, well, downright unhealthy, and it's summed up in these words: "I can be/d0 anything I want." We're speaking of occupations and laudable achievements here, mind you, as opposed to the going out and running wildly amuck, breaking store windows and feasting on caramels and cinnamon buns type of anything I want,  you understand.

We all like to think we can be or do anything we want, don't we?  We were told that growing up, and we tell our children and grandchildren that, but let's be honest. That's not actually true now, is it? No, it is not, and it's not true because no one individual is born with all the talents and attributes necessary for that individual to truly be anything in life they want. It's certainly true that every individual can and should do their very best to utilize their talents and abilities to become whatever it's possible for them to be that makes them happy but that doesn't mean they could be anything they wanted to be. 

Take me, for example. From an early age, I was fascinated--nay, awestruck--by the stars. The very first thing I ever wanted to be was an astronomer. But here's the thing. Take a wild guess what astronomers need.  Strong math and science skills, and by strong math skills, we're not talking about the ability to add two plus two.  We're talking calculus level math skills.  Physics and astrophysics level science skills.  If someone held a gun to my head and told me they'd pull the trigger if I didn't correctly work a calculus problem, I might as well ask if I could go pick my own coffin out, 'cause there's no way in Hades I'd ever be able to work that problem. Not if I stared at it for a hundred years. My brain circuits simply do not work in such a way that I comprehend the logic of higher math. I'm not a math and science gal. So I didn't pursue a math and science career. 

Therefore, it follows that anyone who wants with their whole heart to be a doctor but faints at the sight of blood probably needs to rethink that "I can be anything I want" thing. Likewise, no one's going to be a professional running back if they can't catch a ball with glue on their hands. It's just not going to happen. Anyone who has no musical talent isn't going to play Carnegie Hall.  In other words, there are limits on that "I can be anything I want" mindset. 

Yes, with hard work, patience, and dedication, an individual can do just about anything and I'm certainly not advocating throwing up our hands and wailing "Oh, woe is me!" when the going gets tough because yes, that's when the tough get going. But let's be reasonable about it, people. If we could all do the same things, and do them all equally well, we'd be clones. Or maybe the spawn of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Let's nurture our innate strengths and talents and teach our children and grandchildren to recognize and nurture theirs.  Let's be the best "me" we can be. And sometimes we don't know how good our best can be until life throws us a curve ball we never saw coming. Sometimes we don't even know what hidden talents lie within us until that curve ball hits us in the face. Just ask Ariel Anson...

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