Journal

10 Childhood Lessons I’ve Had To Unlearn

  1. Don’t talk to strangers – If I listened to this one, I wouldn’t be blogging or tweeting at all. Random conversations with strangers can be wonderful, and valuable at times. You can call it networking or building new friendships. Weird questions get answered on Twitter all the time. I asked for a book recommendation a few weeks ago and got several replies in a matter of minutes. I still get anxious when I have to phone the pizza guy though. It’s weird.
  2. Asking for help means you’re dumb – This one wasn’t a rule, but a feeling, having been laughed at in class for asking questions. Asking questions means you’re trying to understand something, and people have different learning styles. I know this now, but only after almost failing because I refused to ask for help.
  3. You can do it all – This is a quick way to burn out, and I have burned out many times before. There are only so many hours in the day, and doing what you love sometimes requires sacrifices. Balance is difficult to achieve, but it’s achievable. I need to learn to say no, because I’ve got enough on my plate. I also need to prioritize better.
  4. You can’t afford to fail – I think this one’s another flaw in our education system, which emphasizes getting the right answers above all else. Failing is sometimes the best way to learn. I need to keep trying different things until I find out what works best for me. “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10000 ways that don’t work.” Thomas Alva Edison
  5. Don’t speak unless spoken to – Not everyone is polite enough to pause for me to speak, and if I’ve got something important to say while other people are preoccupied, I need to say it. This is a quick route to never speaking at all. Sometimes I feel invisible, and this is a big part of why. Maybe it’s just the wrong era for this rule.
  6. There’s only one right way to do things – I see this all the time when it comes to writing. We all need to forge our own paths. Sometimes what works for other people can help, but sometimes it doesn’t.
  7. It’s best to fit in – Yes its hard to stick out, be the odd one, but ultimately, only those who think differently, ever innovate. Thinking the same as everyone else isn’t creative thinking.
  8. Don’t show what you feel – I still have trouble with this one sometimes, but bottling up everything has never done me any good. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I’m angry, but that doesn’t mean I’m weak. Acknowledging my failures, flaws, and emotions means I’m aware and dealing with them. Holding things in only means bigger blowups later. I’d rather opt for honesty in the present.
  9. Always avoid confrontation – I always balk at fighting, and the controversies that spring up pretty regularly online. Watching people argue (or even just debate) makes me physically withdraw. I’d change this one to “pick your battles”. If something is important, then sometimes it needs to be fought for.
  10. Your parents are always right – If I listened to this one, I wouldn’t be married. Marrying E is one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Enough said.

Do you have any you’d like to share?

21 Comments

  1. Yoda would be proud. You are well on the path toward embracing your destiny as a Jedi Knight.

    In all seriousness, good lessons. Or un-lessons. Or whatever.

    There are, however, a few lessons from my childhood that still resonate with me:

    1) Share – From sharing toys to sharing our work to sharing ourselves… how can we go through life without sharing?

    2) Don’t be mean, and if you’re mean, say you’re sorry and mean it – This is a lesson that has been unnecessarily removed from public life in the modern era. Too often, being mean has become the standard way of interacting with others. And too often in this era, when caught out for doing something inappropriate, we apologize without really meaning it.

    3) Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines – Telling the story of this lesson would require too much context for a comment… but I learned that it’s okay to color outside the lines, to be different for different’s sake which for me was related to the next lesson

    4) Believe in something.

    And that’s all I got.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      Oooh do I graduate to using a lightsaber now?!

      Sharing is one of the first ones we learn in school, but one that’s easy to forget as you get older. And yes, saying sorry if you don’t mean it, doesn’t help much, and I’m curious about the coloring story now!

      1. I should blog about that, sometime… And about what I learned.

        And yes. If you can build the lightsaber, you can graduate with it. (Isn’t that how it works? Building your own saber is like the final exam of Jedi Academy or something.)

  2. This post made my heart so happy. 🙂

    #4 is one of my favorite life lessons. I don’t know when I first started to learn it, but it’s something I still have to remind myself of.

    #3 and #9 are ones I’m actively working on too.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      I think I only really learned 4 recently… I still sometimes freak out about ‘what if I get this wrong?’ but remembering this helps calm me down. If it’s wrong? Then I’ll know how to do it right the next time!

      🙂

  3. I’ve definitely fallen victim to #2 and #5, but I’m working on them! What a great post 🙂 I may just have to print this out and put it on my wall where I won’t forget it. Too often we acknowledge these life lessons (or their shortcomings) only to repeat them later.

  4. Did we grow up in the same household? I have the exact same lessons. Though the worst lesson I still struggle with is:

    “Don’t fight” < Which basically turned me into a door mat. It robs a person from the ability to take charge. It doesn't help, if you are born timid.

  5. Some of those lessons aren’t usually taught to guys in the same way. I did get “avoid confrontation” but I think that came more from being raised Quaker. 🙂

    I didn’t get so much of the “it’s important to fit in,” but it was the 1960s and there was a lot of positive reinforcement for being unusual at that time. I knew a lot of people who were acting a lot more unusual than they actually were.

    I did get a lot of “don’t show what you feel” (guys often get that one even more).

    Oh, and I really agree with “pick your battles.” Go after the things that really matter, and let the other ones go.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      You’re right about some lessons emphasized more for girls than guys. I was originally thinking about how people usually tell girls to be ‘nice’ when I typed up this post, but boys, not so much. Hrm there’s more to this one maybe…

  6. Boys Vs. Girls springs to mind as a stupid thing I had to unlearn as I grew up. Us Vs. Them in general has had to go, in favor of finding out who is trustworthy on Team Us, and trying to respect Team Them rather than confront.

  7. It’s similar to the Don’t speak unless spoken to. I had to unlearn Don’t interrupt. I unfortunately have to spend too many times on conference calls and even people who intend to be polite forget that the latency of the calls means that you need to pause longer, or that by the time you’ve finished your pause and start speaking again the other side won’t have had a chance to start yet.

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