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I find it absolutely amazing how the years change not only our physical and mental condition, but our personality, stamina and spunk.
Growing up, I was always a rebel. I argued, negotiated and partied, and if the opportunity to do something forbidden presented itself, I was always first in line to do it.
Proud of my rebellious nature, I remember making a promise to myself that when I become a parent I would never restrict my kids, never preach, and never demand anything of them. Ha! As soon as I become a parent I quickly turned into the biggest hypocrite on this planet, even before my children had a chance to grow into wild, hormone-filled teenagers.
Wanting to give the world to my children, I insisted on providing the environment I thought was imperative for them. Sure, they were allowed to make their own choices, as long as I defined the options they could choose from. Absolutely they could choose their own friends, as long as I approved of them. Getting bad grades was not an option, and if they did, the consequences would be swift, harsh and unfair. Who they wanted to be and what they wanted to major in was their choice. Which school they attended was mine (and my husband's).
Looking back at my experiences with friends and colleagues, I see myself being very judgmental and vocal—it was my way or the highway. I had little patience when teaching coworkers, and no tolerance for stupidity. Sometimes I was painfully honest and hurt people along the way. I always had the best intentions, but I don't think my honesty made people feel any better.
I'm not too proud of the way I sometimes acted during my youth. Yet, I can honestly say that those years served as a stepping-stone to arrive at where I am today.
An Startling Epiphany
Recently, I wrote an article that I thought was phenomenal. It covered a topic I felt very passionate about, and it seemed like the time was right to share my thoughts with the world.
I sent the article to few of my friends and, to my surprise, received a very negative response across the board. As I read their comments, I became very defensive and even more judgmental. Who were they to question my opinion on this important subject? Couldn't they tell I was right? And besides, writing a blog on regular basis isn't easy. I don't see any of them doing it!
Feeling hurt and full of righteous indignation, I decided to publish the article anyway. Who cares what others would think or say? As I said earlier, my way or the highway! It was then (fortunately), that the years of experience kicked in.
As soon as I made my decision, I was overwhelmed with a foreign feeling. A little voice inside of me said to hold off on publishing the article. No particular reason; just don't do it. Puzzled by my reaction, I decided to take a cool shower and then go out for a walk. While walking, I mentally reviewed the article and reconsidered the constructive criticism offered by my friends. In doing so, I experienced a major epiphany.
I suddenly realized that understanding and recognizing my own faults would make me less critical of others. It became evident that I could achieve a lot more through tolerance and understanding, and that negative energy is always counter-productive. It's better to live life with a positive attitude and zest, and it's far more rewarding to give that opportunity to others and provide them with a positive environment to do the same.
I ended up tossing the article and began work on a different one instead. I have since come to realize that the little voice inside me was none other than the voice of maturity, which only arrives after years of experience. It still feels a bit like a stranger, but as time goes by I think we will become good friends.
My grandpa always said, "You have to go through years of being stupid until you become wise." I always believed him but I never thought it would take this long. So now I am wondering, does it take everyone 40+ years or am I just slow?
Oh well. I figure as long as I'm still learning and growing, I must be on the right track.
And as the saying goes: "It's better late then never!"
Yana Berlin – Founder of Fabulously40.com
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