A pessimist may be right in the long run, but the optimist has a better time during the trip. (Daily quote posted yesterday at Neidermyer's Poultry Counter – Chestnut Hill Farmers Market)
The other day at one of my presentations, I talked about doing and understanding only what we are able at any given moment. It seemed to make sense to people attending my talk – but, more importantly it made sense to me in a most profound way. One of the participants shared how hard it was to convince a younger person she cared about, that she needed a higher education in order to succeed in this world. At the end of her story, the older woman in my workshop asked my advice about how to convince her young protege about something she considered to be so crucial for her survival. I replied that she probably would not be able to convince the young woman of anything she did not experience.
For example, when I was young, a number of significant people in my life told me that I was intelligent and should get a higher education. At that time in my life I was unable to even vaguely imagine what they were talking about. I did not feel like I was intelligent, but more painfully, I did not feel deserving of a higher education like everyone else. No amount of telling could convince me to try. But then, one day, almost twenty years later, after years of life experience, self destructive behaviors, therapy, and a bit of luck, I finally allowed myself to reach out, and pull myself out and up into the academic light.
You just cannot do what you are not psychologically or emotionally ready to do.
When I look back and remember moments with all the mentors, therapists, family members, or friends, who gave me advice and support along the way, I realize how they helped me arrive at that moment when I made a choice to change my life script. So, while it is important to share our passion, enthusiasm, support, role modeling – even personal advice – with others, we care about, at the same time, we will have to understand and accept that others may not take our advice or example yet, or ever.
Perhaps our task as educators, counselors, family members or friends – is simply to offer others on our life's path, a different option. Perhaps that is all we can do.