I recently did an email interview where I was asked “What do you wish people in their 20’s and 30’s knew about life?” The answer was pretty clear to me. The younger we are, the less likely we are to understand what our strengths are, to know matters and what doesn’t matter. There are so many things that we excel in when we are young, and that we think will be important for the rest of our lives, that turn out to have very little to do with the lives we were meant to live. One example, drawn from my own experience, has to do with memorization. For no particular reason, I happen to have a talent for memorizing words and numbers. It can now be revealed (for the first time) that my high school locker combination was 07-17-26. Being good at memorization was pretty darn helpful to me as a premed and then medical student but, in recent years, hasn’t really done me much good.
As good as I am with memorization, I am terrible— TERRIBLE— with handwriting. I am left-handed and my handwriting was and is, pretty messy. In second grade, that was a very big deal. Check out the video for the whole story. I still have “poor penmanship” but it doesn’t really matter. I sign my name and I write notes in notebooks that only I will ever read. That’s it.
So this is a learning for me. Things that seem to matter a great deal, might wind up mattering very little and things that seem not to matter at all just might become a very big deal. What matters is the willingness to figure that stuff out– to refuse to allow settled preferences and opinions to govern our lives.