6 Things I Had To Unlearn In My 20s

Russ Morris
Russ Morris

Here’s the deal: right now I am working with kids, and I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that the older the student, the more fearful they are in the classroom. Of learning. Of English as a foreign language. Of putting themselves out there, making mistakes, and doing it differently next time. My teenagers would rather sit in stupefied silence than risk the humiliation of forming an imperfectly pronounced sentence, but my six year-olds couldn’t give a shit that “GAME GOOD, TEACHER! GAME GOOD!” is about as far from syntax perfection as Kim Kardashian West is from her clothes* so long as they get what they want in the end (namely, a rollicking good time. Holla!).

*which I am all for, by the way.

My point: there’s a shit-ton of stuff I learned growing up that I’m spending my twenties trying to unlearn. Didn’t Picasso say something insightful about how it takes a very long time to become young? Related: WE TEACH OURSELVES OUR LIMITATIONS, YOU GUYS.

Here’s what I’m unlearning:

1. Life is hard

You have to fight for what you want. It’s not designed to be easy. Prove yourself.

Urgh. My new year’s resolution for 2014 was to do more of what feels good, and less of what doesn’t. And you know what? It’s awesome. And that’s because life wants me to be happy. Life wants me to pursue my dreams, and see the magic in the everyday, because the universe wants to be noticed for the glorious work that she does. We notice the presence of the divine by personifying love, by leaning in to what feels amazing for as long as it gets us off. What if I believed that I deserve every lovely thing that happens to me?

2. Chase facts, not feelings

Nope. You know what facts do? Distort the truth. There is not a single statement that cannot be “proved” with a percentage or statistic or number. We prize numerical data above all else because we can quantify “facts”, and feelings are slippery motherfuckers that change and alter, that cannot be “proved”.

I don’t have to see something to believe it: I can see it if I believe it.

3. Being alone is lonely

How many times must I learn the lesson, that I feel one thousand times worse spending time in the wrong company than I do if I pass the time in that of my own? I recently declared to myself that for any social occasion, I’ll only go if the thrill of it outweighs the thrill I feel of being at my desk writing or reading: my happy place. That means my social life will shrink exponentially, then, and I have to be comfortable with that. FOMO is for the insecure, and I have to be determined to find peace in my own (much less busy, much less outwardly interesting) path.

(Shockingly, I’m applying this to fellas, too. You don’t need to have a romance in order to have a romantic life, said a very wise woman. I hear that so hard.)

4. Likable girls are modest

This is absolutely the hardest non-truth for me to navigate. Oh, how I want to be liked!

I consistently talk myself down, making jokes at my own expense (getting to the punch line before anyone else can), so as not to appear threatening or somehow too big for my boots. But actually, I am a badass. I’m smart and kind, self-aware and determined. I AM A GOOD PERSON. But beyond that, I have talent. I can write. I can write really well, actually. My blog got the most traffic it ever has done last month. I’m over the goddamn moon about that! That came from hard work. Deliberate practicing of my craft – but I hesitate to call my writing “my craft” because I worry it makes me sound like a wanker. As does “I’m working on a book right now.” I’m so scared of my own reputation. It makes me wonder: What would I do if I wasn’t so afraid of what other people think?

5. Disagreement is bad

I find comfort amongst those who agree with me — but growth amongst those who don’t. Not seeing eye-to-eye with somebody is where the good stuff happens, and I wish I could be braver about that. See: stop trying to be so likable. Furthermore: I am enough.

6. Fucking up is failure

You know what? My mistakes have taught me so much that I’m thinking about making a few more. The only failure is not trying. Failure is not trying again, when that first attempt didn’t work. Failure is fear. And fear is a learned state. As my kids show, it’s the flawed, imperfect, mistake-riddled path that leads to the best games adventures. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared at Superlatively Rude.

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Laura Jane Williams

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