I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect. And no one is perfect, and that is just a fact of life. One of the reasons I know I’m not perfect is the amount of times it appears I am being taught a lesson by life. The worst part about these lessons is they usually end up OK but the actions leading to the resolution make it a lot more complicated, awkward and guilt-ridden than they should have been. Lucky for me, I haven’t permanently messed anything up. Yet.
One thing I know I’m struggling with as I make the transition from child to adult is being aware of how my actions affect others. With things I know, like music or books, it’s easier to predict the outcome through prolonged experience; music follows chord progressions, genres follow basic story arcs. That is not so true in real life. Assuming one thing will not automatically guarantee it will work out. Not everyone in a situation is thinking the same thing.
Life does not flow simply from one place to the next. There are many, many choices involved, and a great deal of these deal with the idea of foresight. I’m really good at using hindsight to look back and think, “Oh, I messed up," but I’m not so good at looking at all aspects of a decision, plan or choice and choosing what will most likely allow me to succeed. I pick what makes sense in the moment. Maybe it’s an example of I don’t know what I don’t know (that has been happening a lot lately). But there are also the instances of things I should have asked, but didn’t. Should have looked for. Should have questioned. Should have planned. Should not have assumed.
The lesson of “never assume anything” can be applied to other places in life as well, not just big decisions. There is also the idea of a first impression, and what data we gather from a few seconds of interacting with a person. The human brain likes to categorize things so it makes sense that we jump to stereotypes with first impressions. However, one thing I think much of the world can learn is to keep our first impressions, especially negative ones, to ourselves. Don’t assume by the way a person speaks or dresses they live a certain way. Not every person living on the streets is a deadbeat. Not all members of a certain religion, political party, or organization share the same beliefs, especially the radical ones. Don’t let the mistakes of the few poison your view of the many.
I may have my methods of tackling a new piece of music, writing a story, or planning out a research paper or project and I accomplish these tasks well. But when it comes to real actions, I fall short. I suppose I could blame it on my nature. I don’t like asking questions, or possibly inconveniencing people, or confronting big things that will have impact on my life outside of the artistic fandom-based world I usually reside in. But I realize that admitting shortcomings is only the first step. The follow-through is harder: actually changing. And this is the same lesson to those out there who like to judge based on raw, few-second stereotypical impressions. Realize you do this, and work on changing. One small action by one person only brings us closer to a more peaceful world.