I’ve always been confused by people that don’t want to better themselves. But, a question has occurred to me lately – what does that even mean “to better yourself”?
I will always distinctly remember being so utterly confused with a friend of mine that wanted nothing more than to become a bank teller – not for the joy of banking business, not to climb any corporate ladders, but to have a legit Monday through Friday 9 to 5. That was it, that was her life’s goal. It confused me so much. Oftentimes, I told myself she had kick-ass weekend hobbies, but that wasn’t even remotely true (unless you count be shwasted for 48 hours).
Then, I moved to Rangely – a town, I was convinced wanted to become Colorado’s next ghost town because they seemed to refused to grow at every opportunity and I couldn’t fathom that outlook for an entire municipality.
I realized though, that what confuses me isn’t this girl or this town’s refusal to be better – it’s their acceptance of stagnation. But then, are those really different things?
In 2010, I strived for personal growth. To me, it seemed like the single most important thing to do in my twenties – to break down barriers (or at least question why they were there). I was inspired by noticing my own lack of self-growth which would manifest itself in so many small ways like refusing to eat a particular meal or not participating in a game, to bigger things like avoiding my family history or closed-minded and ill-informed. Now, I attribute all the things I love about myself to the year of 2010 – I learned to see the beauty in myself by saying it everyday in the mirror and trying out new hairstyles or clothing options, I learned to be outgoing in events and different foods by soaking up every cultural event possible, and I learned how courageous I am by trying to track down my birth father. A quote that’s attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt quickly became part of my mantra, “do something everyday that scares you.” By February, I remember thinking I’d run out of ideas and I asked social media for advice. By November, I was exhausted from saying “yes” to everything and even having friends “2010 me” to do something like it was a dare. By January 2011, I was so glad the year was over but I thought I was better for it.
I think now that maybe what I mean by “better for it” is indeed refusing to accept complacency, to always be on the move either literally in a physical way through travels or by expressing and extending my thoughts through writing or mediation.
And it pains me to see that others don’t make these strides because if we allow a social stagnation then we can’t grow individually and therefore I don’t know how we can grow as a nation or a world. When I feel this way, I’m often reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” in which he describes the story of Rip Van Winkle and says, “And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”
I’m of the opinion that those people that don’t seek self-growth are those that can’t take the next steps to follow or move social change. They are the ones that are asleep. And, while this sleep not only confuses, but enrages me, I wonder if I want to be the one to wake them?