In a few months, I’m starting a graduate program in psychology. I’m thrilled that this is finally coming together, and that I’m going to build new skills that will help me do my work.
When I considered writing about this, I noticed both a desire to share my excitement with the world, and a bit of anxiety about announcing my plans.
This didn’t make sense at first. Why would I feel reluctant to tell people about big news in my life?
After a little pondering, the reason became clear. If I told you I’m going to grad school, wouldn’t I be admitting that I still have more to learn? That I don’t “have all the answers”? And if I don’t have all the answers, why should people want to read what I write about personal development?
Do You Like “Answers” or Authenticity?
But then, a question occurred to me: what kind of writing do I like to read? Do I like articles that give me a list of 100 things I should do to succeed, be happy, or something else? Or do I prefer writers who are willing to let down their guard with me, and tell me what’s really going on with them?
It didn’t take a lot of reflection to answer this one. When another human being lets me really see them, in all their perfect imperfection, that’s a greater gift to me than all the “tips and tricks” out there put together.
And doesn’t it stand to reason, I thought, that if I like honest, vulnerable writing, other people might appreciate that too? I mean, I’m an unusual guy and all, but doesn’t it make sense that you and I might share some of the same tastes?
Giving Ourselves Permission To Be Human
At a deeper level, I’ve found that, when someone genuinely shares with me — particularly if what they share involves a “negative emotion,” an insecurity, or something like that — that actually helps me do my own “inner work.”
This is because, when they tell me about one of their foibles, quirks, or hangups, I feel a sense of permission to have my own hangups as well. I feel my own worries about looking imperfect melting away, and more compassion for myself and others.
This is why, recently, I’ve tended toward exploring issues that feel embarrassing or difficult in my writing. I’ve been doing this in the hope that, the more of my own truth I share, the more others will start feeling free to share their truth. (Not that I find going to grad school embarrassing — I think it’s pretty cool.)
The View From The High Horse
In keeping with this theme of honesty, I’m going to mount my high horse for a moment, and say I’d like to see the self-development blogosphere move in this direction too. I think we could all stand to give each other a little less advice, and offer a bit more of our personal experience. Nobody’s really “got all the answers,” and it would be a relief, at least for me, if we could just admit that to ourselves and each other.
Anyway, this has been my long-winded way of breaking the news that I’m going to grad school. I’m looking forward to more learning and growth, and to contributing to others’ growth in whatever ways I can.
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