I’m often struck by the feeling that people have forgotten what it was like to be a young person.
When I reflect on my Year 12 self or my first year as a medical student, my memories of my thoughts and feelings during those times are not very specific. I have a general idea of what I was like and what my year was like, but not necessarily a snapshot of how I thought.
Although I could delve into my old journals, these were written during my most angsty times and probably wouldn’t provide an accurate reflection of my general perspective on life.
Having snapshots of our past selves is important because it’s easy to overestimate or underestimate our abilities.
Now that I’m relatively proficient at managing my life, it’s easy to think that I was always able to do that when, in reality, I didn’t use a calendar or a to-do list in Year 12 (I had other systems, but they weren’t as effective). Additionally, I might assume that I always worked through problems in a certain way, or that I always had a certain level of maturity.
The real danger here is that we can set unrealistic expectations of others based on an incorrect understanding of our past behaviour. It always surprises me when parents and teachers say things like “you should know better,” when it’s likely that they themselves didn’t know it at that age.
It is true that society changes between generations, but I believe that many individual struggles transcend generations and societies. The questions of ‘what does it mean to be a good person?’ and ‘what makes my life meaningful?’ will probably always plague people.
I hope to be a parent and/or a teacher as I get older, and I realise that having a strong understanding of the challenges in each stage of life is ridiculously important. In teaching, knowing what understanding students have is is important to tailor the delivery of information (we all know that lecturer who assumes you know everything). As a parent, I want to be able to understand how my child thinks and feels so that I can help them without judgement.
A great part of content creation is that I can look back on my old newsletters and videos and understand my previous perspectives on life. That being said, I want to take this process more seriously, as it can help me in many aspects of my life.
In the middle of the year, I’m going to try doing a ‘life snapshot’ where I write down my thoughts, feelings, goals and aspirations in an attempt to be able to understand them in the future.
This might be something worth trying yourself, and I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!
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