I was reunited with my old friend The Gym today after a shaky relationship last year. We had a great catch up at The Treadmill, where I had a bit of an epiphany – as much as we are influenced by popular opinion, there are still some things that are important to stick to even if they don’t always stack up against what logic says… or what other people tell you.
Living with your decisions.
I was at a choir concert a few weeks ago and thinking how awesome it would be to be a music teacher. There were some 200 children (aged between 6 – 12) up on stage that evening and it was such a delightful and positive environment to be in.
I have always loved teaching, but a barrier against having a career in teaching has always been the perception that teaching isn’t a job that “people like me” go into. Teachers have one of the most significant and rewarding jobs on the planet, but there isn’t much kudos from the public for being a teacher.
My decision to work for a boutique law firm instead of one of the major firms has received a lot of criticism, for the same reason that it wasn’t the obvious choice for “people like me” and the one with the most perceived esteem.
Yet at the end of the day the person that has to live with the decisions that we make is ourselves. Who are “people like me” anyway? It doesn’t matter how many ticks of approval other people give you, what is important is whether you are okay with the choices that you make. Sometimes you have to go with the gut feeling, even if it means swimming against the tide.
Unknowing what you know.
I would make a very terrible scientist, as I have a tendency to exclude the data that doesn’t match my hypothesis. Sometimes I come across situations or facts that ‘disprove’ a belief that I hold, but I’ll continue to (perhaps irrationally) hold that belief anyway.
I strongly believe in equality of opportunity. I don’t think equality of opportunity is a mythical ideal but something that can be achieved with the right tweeks in the way society works. Underlying this view is the belief that it is possible for a person to overcome circumstances that they are born into with the right attitude and a bit of luck.
In other words, I swing towards nurture rather than nature.
But against all the ‘evidence’ and anecdotes that point against equality of opportunity ever having true application in society, somehow all of that just doesn’t sit right with my brain. I used to swallow up science and facts as if they always spoke the truth, but what is true and what is factually true are very different things.
The views that I have about how things are and how things should be influence who I am and what I do. In order to do the things that I want and hope to do, sometimes I have to do a bit of spring cleaning in order to keep believing in something that is probably irrational to believe in. It’s a fine line between being naive and being optimistic, but in my opinion the line is sometimes worth being crossed as long as you understand what you are rejecting.
I grew up as a child thinking that expressing myself was a bit of a crime. I suspect that this might have had something to do with piano – I hated performing piano as a little girl because I was dreadfully scared of people judging my playing and criticising it. I would get told off (or laughed at by some of the other kids) for not playing the piano ‘properly’ (i.e. like a robot).
I was a bit mortified to later discover this social activity called Dancing. Unless the physical movement involves doing something with or to a ball, I am otherwise uncoordinated beyond help. I love music, so naturally I also like moving to it – but heaven forbid should anyone ever see my awkward limbs in action.
A few years down the track I have realised that actually most people don’t have a clue what they’re doing when dancing. The line between people who dance and those that refuse is not the awkwardness but the fact that the first category of people just do it anyway.
Long story short – life isn’t fun being worried about being judged all the time. Most of the time people don’t actually care about the things that might seem like such a big deal at the time, and if you’re enjoying yourself then that’s really all that matters anyway. Live, love… and unleash the awkward dancer in you.