I think one of the amazing things about being human is how all of our experiences combine to make us who we are. We are not static, we are capable of change and when we choose to change we can alter ourselves in dramatic ways. I find it fascinating how we can change both externally and internally.
I went to visit my mom in Connecticut for a week this year and the amount I have changed rapidly became apparent. Sometimes I think in familiar settings it is easier to see how we are different. I have grown to live a more nomadic existence, my husband and I have made large moves to three different parts of the United States. For me to see the change in myself is hard because my setting and life have dramatically changed.
I have always had a growth mindset even before I knew that term. The basic idea behind a growth mindset is a belief that we are not limited by our starting point, but can dramatically change based on our willingness to work and perseverance. I think we all grow up with narratives in our family and mine was that I was not the smart one, both my brother and sister were considered the smart ones, and I just was not. This is not to say I was incompetent, but the adjective more associated with me were hardworking. Things supposedly came easy to my brother and sister, that was not the case for me. I had to work hard on everything, from a young age and I realized that with hard work I could do anything I wanted to do. My stubbornness pushed me to thinking that I will show them, and in ways I did. I graduated from college in three years and attended and earned my masters degree shortly after. I think I struggle with the idea that genius is static or fixed, I honestly think that our abilities are dramatically changeable, and if they would have predicted our futures, mine probably would not have been predicted for how it came out.
Recently I have been strongly considering how our underlying assumptions influence how we live our lives. I have started to recognize that the values that I had growing up have changed. When I was much younger I was worried about blending in and status, and to some degree I still wish I could blend in, but as my husband often says I try to blend in and it just comes out in my unique weird way. I cared about the physical possessions as a sign of status, I wanted to be put together and “have it all”. I am slowly but surely realizing that for me work is not everything and I am not sure I will have a traditional career path, and that is okay. I am letting go of my previous expectations for myself, I am guiding myself to a place of greater acceptance and peace. Many days I still struggle with the external, that I am not particularly stylish or as thin as I believe I should be. I am realizing more and more though that those external factors have a much smaller influence upon my life than the internal factors. I need to live a life I agree with and to be myself as scary as it may be. I cannot live for others or for safety’s sake. I can find a way to be sustainable that might not follow any traditional path and my way of being might be untraditional but there is nothing wrong with that.
I think that we as a society put so much emphasis on intelligence and status and it is just plain wrong. We are striving for things we think we want that will not make us happy when we get them. I do not want to strive and find that at the end of the day I am still back where I started. I strive to grow and change, and right now my focus is internal, what are the things I can change that will dramatically alter my way of life.
I have been watching some of the series Chef’s Table lately. These chefs many would consider culinary geniuses, but what I see for the most part are people who are striving and unhappy. They are quite well known and their success is highly renowned but they do not see it. They do not think of themselves as finished or done, they continually strive. I would say most of them seem to be passionate about their work, but occasionally they seem so stressed and they live their lives in toxic environments. What is the value of life if you lose your soul in the process? I do not want a life where I lose my soul. I want to grow in my culinary prowess and cooking things I love, but I am letting go of the status. I do not need or want to turn my life into something I hate or that hurts me on a daily basis. I am willing to take steps back from the external trappings, I am willing to give up fancy new things, I want something deeper and richer. I want a life that is filled with intention and purpose, even though I am not sure what my purpose is yet, that is what I yearn for. Genius is all fine and good, but not if you lose yourself and your soul in the process. At the end of the day I still want to be able to look at my life and be proud of my decisions and how I have handled what I see in the day to day.