A few weeks back, my nephew (I’ll call him J) celebrated his 16th birthday. Geez, where has the time gone?
It brought back a memory from when he was really little (maybe 5 or 6). My brother and I both worked in downtown offices just a few minutes away from each other, and for some reason he had brought my nephew to work. I worked on the 27th floor of my building, and had a great view of the city from there. I thought he would enjoy the view, so over lunch I went and brought him to my office.
We were walking around the office, checking out the view from different places; and while walking around we went by the desk of a co-worker who had a bowl of jube jubes on his desk. I told him he was welcome to have some if he wanted, and our exchange went something like this:
Me: Hey J, there are jube jubes here. Would you like some?
J: No, I don’t like those.
Me: What, you don’t like jube jubes? Really?
J: No, I’ve never tried them.
His logic made me laugh. I’ve never tried them, therefore I don’t like them. Thing is, it’s not just kids that think this way.
Take a few moments, and in your head come up with a few of the things that you enjoy, or that make you “you”.
Now think about some of the things that really “aren’t you”.
I’ve always been fascinated with the whole nature/nurture debate, and think there are definitely elements of both of these at play in how people develop and grow.
When it comes to interests and experiences though, I think you really need to be exposed to things and give them an honest chance before you can say if you like something or not.
If I look at myself, the person I was at 12 is very different from the person I was at 24, and both of those are very different from the person I am now.
Actually, that statement isn’t entirely accurate. The core “person” is probably still the same, but my interests…
Well, they’re pretty different.
At 12, I was someone who was often out riding my bike around the neighborhood or playing at the park with buddies. Sure, I was a kid, but my “alone time” was characterized by reading, drawing and listening to music in my room.
At 24 I was an adult (hah, right). I was in my career, so I was obviously at a different spot in life. Most of my “me” time was spent in a gym working out or on a basketball court. When buddies and I would get together, we were often watching movies, basketball games or playing video games. I would rarely read (for fun), and I hadn’t drawn in years at that point. Music was a constant, but the type of music I listened to was completely different.
We aren’t the same people at 12 as we are at 24, and we shouldn’t be. We experience things, and those things shape us. And the key to that is experience.
What happens if we don’t experience new things?
If we just do the same things again and again, we are shortchanging ourselves.
We aren’t giving ourselves opportunities to grow.
As a kid, I didn’t spend much time around water. Sure we went to a beach once in a while, but that was about it (hey, I grew up in the middle of the prairies). And guess what – probably as a result I was scared of water, and I never really learned how to swim. I enjoyed being “in” water, but was not comfortable getting water over my head. And that stayed that way for a long time.
Did I not “like” water? Was that just who I was?
No, I don’t think so.
I simply didn’t have a lot of opportunity to be in it, and as a result the few times I was in it, I wasn’t comfortable.
Over the years I have gotten past that fear, and I now love water. I will probably never be an accomplished swimmer, but I am completely comfortable in water. At age 39 I went snorkeling for the first time, in the tropics. I thought it was a magical, incredible experience, and I look forward to being able to do it again.
There are many, many things I have yet to do and experience. And my current approach to life is I will try almost anything twice. I say “almost” because there are certain things I have no real interest in trying, as doing so would violate some personal boundaries for me. But yeah, by and large I’m willing to trying anything twice.
I say twice because the first time you do something, you may not be able to fully appreciate it for what it is. The “newness” of the experience may override your ability to actually have the experience. Plus the experience may not really be representative of the event or experience. So it’s hard to say if it’s something you may enjoy or not.
Take trying a new type of ethnic food for example.
If you’ve never tried it, how can you say you don’t like it? And maybe the first time you try it you’re a bit hesitant because of the way it looks, or smells, or its texture or something.
That first time trying it is overcoming the any potential fears of something new. And if you didn’t really like it, maybe it was just prepared badly.
After a second try, if it’s not something you want to try again then no problem. You can at least say you gave it a chance. You tried it, and it wasn’t your thing (though our tastes can and do change over time).
As people, for some reason we seem to accept that kids change. After all, we see them growing and changing right before our eyes.
Yet for some reason we seem to think that as we grow into adulthood we become finished products. We are more likely to say “I don’t like this”, or “this is just who I am”.
We are more likely to become set it our ways, and be resistant to change.
Instead of “this is just who I am”, I think of it as “this is who I am, right now”. Change is one of the only constants in life, and we are always in the process of “becoming”.
So next time you walk by that bowl of jube jubes, be willing to give some a try.
You might like them, you might not.
But you’ll never know if you won’t try.