Monday, November 7, 2011

You Are What You Learn


"You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that's what you'll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you'll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you'll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There's almost nothing you can't learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You're free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it."
- Scott Adams in Dilbert.com

Learning something new is often a challenging ordeal filled with ups and downs. It's a scary place at first as we try to find comfort in our training wheels. It's exciting when we figure out we have the hang of it, and then feel proud once we master our chosen field. But what truly happens as we learn is the unlearning, the letting go of the past in order to grasp the future. In the unconscious space between the handle bars is where we truly develop and become someone new. I have learned my way out of irresponsibility, negative habits, and just about everything I have ever read in Cosmo as a teenage girl. Leaning in, as Scott Adams describes, to new information always exposes the old information to judgments. We are constantly evolving and reinventing ourselves by what we choose to learn, and as a result unlearn.

Henry David Thoreau once said that it is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to grow.  I hope we all learn, unlearn, and in that process get to truly know ourselves.

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