When I graduated from college, I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. I can’t believe that was only a little over 3 years ago because how did I fit everything I’ve learned in just 3 years? Immediately after graduating, I was forced to spend time alone, not because of COVID, but because it’s just what you do when you move somewhere for only 6 months. Through that, I developed a greater love for fitness, for eating…better, for spending time with myself, and for thinking about things more. I read a lot of self-growth books, I wrote on Medium quite a lot, and I came to terms with so many hard truths about myself, my past, and even my future.
When I reached grad school, I was smacked in the face with with reality. I thought I was ready to accept new things, I thought I had neared the end of my “self-discovery”. Boy, was I wrong. In those 2 years, I learned so much about work and research, was in a relationship that was good but tough, and I developed a lot of confidence. I also learned a lot in my reflections of this time period after it ended…but that’s a story for another time. Silly little me — I thought I was ready to embrace adulthood and I was never going to struggle again! Or at the very least, I felt as if getting into graduate school was the most difficult thing I ever had to do — so it couldn’t be worse, right?
Over and over, I was hit with the harsh reality that I was not done learning. This was my limited perspective — I thought I was ready to go! I was too arrogant, didn’t check my ego, and completely overestimated my skills. I’m not saying we need to sit there and insult ourselves because that’s much too far in the opposite direction. And I think, thankfully, that I learned this lesson sometime in the second year of school. But now that I think about it…had I simply been learning this lesson about the curse of having a limited perspective over and over again?
The answer is — yes. Even if you don’t go to the extreme of feeling like you know everything, even if you think you are able to fully accept a lesson and learn something new, the universe will still find a way to seemingly turn your life upside down. Thinking that you’re done learning and growing is short-sighted. It’s foolish, nonsensical, and frankly, not fun. And it limits you from growing as much as you can. Essentially, I had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t know as much as I thought I did, and in fact, I had to realize that I knew virtually nothing. But it made me hungry and curious for more.
So, hear me out. Here’s the process of engaging with your limited perspective. It may happen over a day, a week, month, year, YEARS, even.
- Life feels good. You feel good and smart and accomplished…and you start to forget what it’s like to be wrong.
- You learn something new.
- It really, really hurts because it shatters your entire worldview, but at least you accept the truth. If you don’t, well, you don’t get to go to step 4.
- You are overjoyed with this new lesson you learned. You are newly humbled, but you are still thankfully confident because you recognize that learning you’re wrong is the only way to get better.
- Because of your humbling experience, you’re a little braver. You’re also more curious about things because you realize that you could potentially be wrong about other things too.
- You accomplish something because of the lesson you learned, but then you sort of start forgetting that you were recently humbled. Now, go back to step 1, but it’s maybe about 1% better.
It’s fun. Every time you think you’ve learned enough, done enough, given enough — you get a reality check. Like Oprah says, we all get reality checks! Well, actually, that’s not true, because the actual truth is — sometimes we need to seek these moments out ourselves.
Ego, complacency and comfort — the death of personal growth.
No matter what concept you are exploring, the moment you come to believe that you are the expert or that you deserve to make all the decisions for everyone — that’s ego. The moment that think that you are done learning, or that you’re good to go for the rest of your life — that’s complacency. The moment that you choose to embrace comfort over growth when you know you’re fully capable of the second…you get it.
It is not enough to let the universe come at us with its lessons and occasional rudeness. You have to go out there and pursue these things. Isn’t it weird, but kind of awesome, to want to suffer? Sure, sometimes you need to breathe a sigh of relief and take a beat, but get back into it sooner rather than later. It’s not enough to be “good enough”, because there is someone out there who is doing just a fraction more. Someone out there is asking questions & listening, seeking guidance from older experts (experience is king). Someone out there is chasing discomfort, honesty, and truth. If you have the same skills as anyone else — what sets you apart? Let it be your eagerness to explore the corners of the universe, to push your boundaries, and to be okay with being wrong.
Don’t let your limited perspective limit you from the ability to grow as much as humanly possible.