Last week it was my birthday and I’ve been thinking about what it means to grow older and have also been reflecting on things I originally thought and how it has changed and evolved over time. One of the things that kept popping up was the phrase “I can’t”. I can’t in of itself is an acceptance that you can’t do everything and as I get older, apart of me knows that I can’t do everything nor do I need be able to do everything. Here’s a couple of ways of how my thinking has evolved over time.
Not being able to do something versus knowing what you can and can’t do
This statement stems from the notion of being naïve vs being courageous. When approaching a situation when you’re young, you approach it with a headstrong mindset and you do not really know what the dangers are, what could go wrong or what you are going to do if those things happen, you are naive. As you grow older, you become aware of those dangers and concerns but you trust your ability to do it and move forward irrespective of these considerations, you are courageous.
When I was younger, I would get extremely frustrated when I couldn’t do something. Whether it was learning an instrument or getting a maths question wrong, I didn’t want to accept the fact that ‘I couldn’t do something’. At the time my inability to execute things that I thought I could do took at shot at my ego and my self-confidence but as I get older, with more experience under my belt, I have started to see that there are definitely things that I can’t do, AND THAT IS OKAY because there are also things I’m really good at. I don’t need to be good at everything and that my limitations are also someone else’s strength, I just need to go and find them.
It’s okay to not be able to do everything.
I’ve approached my life with an experience maximisation approach in my early stages of career to develop a baseline of self-awareness. The more things I try, reflect, try and reflect, the more aware I become at the things I’m good at and not good at. This growth comes with the acceptance there are just simply things I can’t do, for example: I can’t be an NBA player or a world class athlete. When I was younger, I thought having these limitations put a cap on things that I could do and that I should shoot for the moon regardless of the likelihood of success. This has evolved from rudimentary beliefs to self-acceptance of these limitations and funnily enough has allowed me to focus MORE on the things that I’m good at and LESS on the things that I’m bad at.