As I walk among humanity each day, I am struck by the vast number of people I meet who have little self-knowledge and this is particularly rampant in the millennial generation. My own theory for why this happened starts with the self-esteem movement of the eighties and nineties that the public schools established. I think the goal was worthwhile but the methodology was flawed from the outset. It was just an illusion that everyone saw through but no one dared to challenge. I didn’t raise my kids that way and they turned out to be perfectly functional adults but a lot of other kids grew up in a surreal world of high praise for little achievement, congratulations for making it to school and whatever grade they wanted just to make them happy.
I was raised differently and I believe it was better. I failed a lot and I dealt with the consequences of my bad choices. I still had a wonderful childhood that I wouldn’t change for anything. I won a lot too. In grade school I owned Field Day. If I didn’t come home with five blue ribbons, it was a disappointment and I felt bad. I dealt with my failure by running some more to get better for next year. I tried harder so I wouldn’t have to feel bad again. I guess the other kids didn’t try as hard as I did because I won more than I lost. My competitive nature led to greater achievement and the realization that hard work was required for good things to happen to me.
After college I wanted to come back and work for my dad but he wouldn’t let me. He said I wouldn’t appreciate the family business unless I worked somewhere else first. So he sent me off to New York City to get my sales training. I got a lot more self-knowledge there but it wasn’t much fun. I was made to realize that I wasn’t that smart or good looking or funny or as charming as I thought I was and that happened during the first cab ride from the airport. It was all downhill from there. I got verbally abused for being a rube every day and I had no choice but to stand there and take it. I had a couple of friends but they were going through a lot of the same growing up process too so we just drank beer and tried to forget. It was the worst of times and the best of times because I gained more than I lost.
Self-knowledge is painful at times because none of us is perfect and the selfish illusions we prefer are much more pleasurable. I have no illusions about myself anymore. I know my talents and my weaknesses. Writing is my strength, speaking is my soft spot so I write more than I talk. Hard work and being responsible is required for me to be happy. I am bad at being lazy. Truth is very important to me and dishonesty is my mortal enemy. Faith in God keeps me going and shows me the way to live but I have no right to impose my beliefs on anyone else. It’s not my job to judge others without immediately exposing my own hypocrisy for not being perfect myself. It is my job to help everyone I meet and be transformed by my faith into a better person. My life will always have meaning as long as I am passionate about God’s purpose for my life. I don’t get to take days off from being faithful and I wouldn’t want to, even if I could. I spend each day helping children achieve their own version of self-knowledge and shrinking their illusions slowly but surely. What more could I ask for than to have plenty to do, with unlimited potential to help others and all the God-given ability to do just that. He made me who I am and I do everything I can to show my appreciation for the great life I have been given.
The more we realize about ourselves and the more we are honest about our failings, the better chance we have of being happy. Illusions are the most deceitful form of selfishness and they will only lead us to the darkest corners of our existence. I have yet to meet even one person who comes close to perfection and is fully self-aware. I know of one but He died to fulfill His purpose and give meaning to mine. I thank Him every day and then I go out and try harder to achieve a better life. My life will never be perfect but it will always be the best I can make it.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.