Listening to Future Me
I'm not sure if I'll ever really consider myself a "mature" person. Just trying to figure out what that means for me is a frustrating exercise, much less figuring out if it's something I've achieved or even really want. Naturally this has led to a bit of self reflection and over the years one solid pattern has emerged. Past me is sort of an idiot.
Now it's easy to look back on one's past self and see all the flaws. Hell, that's the reason we evolved shame. At some point our ancestors started feeling shitty about ways they messed up in the past and that made them less likely to screw up going forward, which them enough of a selective advantage to survive in a world where enough mistakes can mean the end of the evolutionary line. There's a couple of important realizations that I've come to from doing this enough though.
1. If I didn't have things figured out then, who's to say I do now?
This sounds bad, but bear with me. Every so often I take a look at who I was two years ago and every time I conclude that I had no clue what I was doing, I was missing so many opportunities, and I didn't read enough. I've done this enough times that I can reasonably conclude that two years from now, future me is going conclude that right now I have no clue what I'm doing, I'm missing opportunities, and I need to read more.
There's a silver lining to this though. Being aware of this allows me to check what I'm doing and how I'm taking care of myself. Sometimes when I'm not getting enough sleep or eating out too much or dragging my feet on hitting a deadline I can almost hear future me saying "What the fuck is wrong with you?!". It sounds silly, but it's a simple check I can use to keep myself away from some of my less productive tendencies and put myself on some sort of curve for self improvement, even if all that means right now is not staying up until 2am playing Overwatch
Now acknowledging that relatively speaking I'm right now every bit as clueless as I was a couple of years ago is a difficult thing to do, but it's an important part in...
2. Forgiving my past mistakes in order to move forward
I grew up Catholic, and some residual guilt issues are about the only part of that deal that stuck.
I'm also remarkably absent minded, so that means I have the superpower of remembering my past screw-ups or missteps and conveniently forgetting the context led to them. I've written before about how people and situations are almost always way more complex than they appear. I've learned to apply this logic to my past self as well.
I try now to give myself the benefit of doubt that whatever dead ends I ran down way longer than I should have, at the time, I was doing my best with what I knew at the time, and I can only try and do better now rather than be weighed down by what's behind me. The worst mistakes are the ones we refuse to acknowledge and learn from. I know I still have a lot of learning to do, and thus a lot of mistakes to make, and that's okay.
Thanks for listening,