My musings on different political topics relevant to America today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Institutions, Risk, and Life Lessons

Its funny how everything worthwhile in life requires risk.  We risk our reputation when we decide to befriend someone.  We risk failure when we go to school, start a job, or even start a business.  We risk being wrong when we commit to an opinion, worldview, or political philosophy.  We really can't achieve anything worthwhile without risk.  Yet admittedly its often easier to just sit there and watch life pass us by.  Its often easier to live in misery than to actually live a full life.  Thus no surprise, thats exactly what many do, including myself most of the time.

Its funny how we have many institutions in society that are there for the very purpose of forcing us out of our comfort zones, yet I fear we have forgotten how important these institutions are, whether they be sports, extracurricular activities, clubs, etc.  We need these things and much more to push us out of our comfort zone because if it was up to us we usually choose the easy way out.  Thus the more I think about it, the more I realize a culture that goes overboard on the value of self ownership can lead to disaster.  If parents do not actively try to push their students to try new things, or if the school they go to growing up doesn't push it either, then its likely those students will grow up and be permanently handicapped in handling adverse situations and taking risks.

I find it revealing that its my generation that has become obsessed with micro-aggressions and not offending each other.  Its interesting that my generation is the one that believes we must be warned before anything potentially offensive has been said to us.  Its my generation that has originated the concept that actions must be taken preemptively to ensure we don't feel uncomfortable.  I can't help but think this stems from an upbringing of never being pushed out of our comfort zones.  I believe the soft skills of conflict resolution and emotional maturity and a healthy attitude toward risk have been handicapped by an upbringing which did not appreciate the importance of these.  Everybody had to win "honorable mention" and everyone had to be told they were special because it might hurt their feelings if they weren't.

I don't at all think all millennial are this way, and I know I am painting very broad strokes when I talk about "my generation," but the trend still greatly disturbs me.  The fact is the benefits of going out of your comfort zone are immense.  One, you learn pretty quickly that you are not as awesome as you think you are.  However, even more important, you realize that failure in different situations isn't a big deal.  You learn that getting upset and hurt are parts of life that are unavoidable, and the harder you try to avoid them, the easier it is to get upset or hurt.  These are not easy things to teach, they pretty much have to be learned through experience.

I think society needs to revalue activities that teach our youth to be okay with failure and okay with being uncomfortable.  There is a lot at stake from ignoring the importance of these lessons.  I hope my generation can turn things around for the next generation.  We are all capable of so much more than we realize, and the last thing I want is for someone to neglect their talents and passions because they are afraid of something as senseless as rejection or failure.

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