At any given age, you really think you know it all. Teenagers may be infamous for it, but they are not alone in this phenomenon. People often look back and laugh at the naïve choices of their past, not just their choices as a teenybopper.
An article I recently read by John Tierney draws attention to this. The article is called “Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be” and while reading the article, it made me start thinking about many aspects of my own life.
In Tierney’s article, he discusses the results of a study that was done by a team of psychologists. The team examined more than 19,000 people, ages 18 to 68. The research showed that people often underestimate how much they will change in the future, even after realizing how much their interests and personality have changed in the past.
Looking back on my childhood, I found myself able relate to the results shown in this article. As a youngster, I thought Britney Spears would always be my favorite artist and I would never understand why dessert couldn’t come before dinner. I couldn’t really see past a time when my closet would not be overflowing with American Girl dolls and accessories.
Even as I entered high school, regardless of the many mistakes I had made, I always thought I knew better than my mother. I was sure I could take care of myself and that my 16 years of wisdom outshined her many more years. It was not until I graduated and moved a few hours away that I began to realize I will always need my mom; I will probably never outgrow her maternal wisdom.
Up until a few months ago, I had spent the past five years of my life a vegetarian. I honestly thought that I would be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have guessed that within a few months of moving to East Lansing that I would start eating meat again; I was sure that tofu and veggie burgers were the way for me.
When I found that the cafeteria didn’t really offer a good selection of protein sources for vegetarians, I decided I should start eating some meat. Now, a few months later, I love eating meat. I don’t think I will go back to a vegetarian lifestyle anytime soon.
It’s little things like this, which remind me that my values, habits and personality will always be changing. As mature as I might feel right now, I understand that my nearly 19 years of wisdom probably won’t cut it. As I write this now, I realize that many other people could say the same thing about their childhood or adulthood. It makes me wonder why humans are so uncomfortable with the idea that they could be a completely different person in ten years. Perhaps if we prepared for the inevitable changes in the future, we would be less likely to regret the choices of our past.
I guess what I have really gathered from this article is that perhaps I should rethink that tattoo I was considering getting in the spring.