This I Used To Believe

This is a rather complex meme stemming from friends’ discussions, prompted by a This American Life podcast called “This I Used To Believe”, about changed ideas and philosophies: what people no longer thought or felt, and why.

I thought it was sufficiently interesting to take a stab at it myself.

I used to believe if you could do something you should, perhaps must, do it, particularly with respect to writing. I’m not convinced I’ve stopped believing that about *myself*, but I’ve become a great deal less demanding of other people. Mostly I don’t seem to go in for must (for other people, anyway) anymore, and I just hope they have the courage/insight/chance to do what makes them happy.

I used to believe I could teach a pig to sing, which is perhaps more commonly known as believing I could change people. Somewhere in the past several years I have instead come to believe that people will change themselves–or not–depending on their want and need to do so. The best I can do is encourage them, but there is absolutely no point in throwing myself against a wall repeatedly in the hopes that it will finally give. It won’t. The pig and I are both much happier if I do not try to teach it to sing.

I used to believe it was easier to not take risks. In many ways I got over that when I was thirteen and failed to meet a TV star because I was too worried about being wrong about that cute boy looking familiar, and didn’t want to risk being embarrassed. It turned out he /did/ look familiar, because he was Kirk Cameron of the then-extremely-popular show Growing Pains, but I was so worried about being wrong that I only got to ‘meet’ him as part of a crowd of other teens once they discovered he was there, instead of one-on-one half an hour before the rest of them noticed.

Similarly, I used to believe it was easier to not try and to fail than it was to do the work. It wasn’t. It’s a hell of a lot easier to try–succeed or fail–than to go through the self-loathing emotional wringer of *knowing* I was failing because I wasn’t trying. This largely manifested itself in bombing out of college.

Also similarly, I used to believe success wasn’t scary. Success is in fact completely fucking terrifying, which possibly I knew somewhere in my hind brain and therefore sabotaged myself with regards to school. It is equally possible I was just a dumb teenager who had no well-developed study habits. :) Anyway, I learned success was terrifying when I sold URBAN SHAMAN. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared in my life. It becomes less scary, though, once it’s been faced.

So. What did you used to believe?

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