When I was a kid, I high-fived a friend of mine. Their hand was as limp as a supermarket fish and the action lacked that satisfying clapping sound that should accompany high-fives. So, thinking I was being a helpful friend, I offered them some advice.
“Hey, if you keep your hand flat and press it towards mine at the same time, it sounds a lot cooler.” I said.
“Well then, just don’t high-five me anymore.” They said, sneering, and walked away.
It’s so weird what gets remembered from childhood and what doesn’t. This memory stuck and I think for good reason.
Instead of feeling upset at my friend for walking away from me, I was left with a curiosity.
What would it be like to live in a world where one gets defensive when someone else gives them advice?
I found myself wandering around the backyard of my parents home that afternoon, sipping my grape juice box and deep in thought. I was a weird 12 year old.
As the years went on, I realized I could put people that I knew into two categories:
- People that see mistakes, failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.
- People that see those things as indicators that they’re not good at those activities and should spend their time on what they’re good at.
As a teenager, I wanted to go out and talk to girls.
Some of my friends would say things like, “Yeah, that sounds like fun.”
And other friends would say things like, “I am way too shy for that.”
My friends who were focused on the fun would laugh it off when a girl rejected them. These friends had busy dating lives and large social circles.
My friends who identified as ‘too shy’ spent more and more time playing video games and building really close relationships among themselves.
Neither better than the other – just different.
It’s also worth noting that most the popular kids, not all of them but most, played sports. If they could watch themselves grow a skill like tackling an opponent and catching a ball, watch themselves getting stronger, than why not be able to grow themselves in other areas of life?
But springing this concept into adulthood, that’s when things started to get really interesting.
People who believed they could grow themselves into someone who does a certain type of work, did. People who told themselves they couldn’t, didn’t.
Do you know how many 23 year olds I know that have already given up on their dreams? And they’re twenty-three.
Maybe that’s part of the problem, that their dreams stayed dreams and never turned into goals. Maybe people spend so much time watching TV and playing video games because it’s easier to escape into a fantasy world than it is to face reality.
Because ultimately, we choose what we do with our life. We get dealt a hand when we’re born and we can play it however we wish. But the choice is up to us in the end, the choice to grow or stay the same.
And having to admit that we have a life that we feel the need to escape from because of the choices that we made? That’s a tough pill to swallow.