I never thought so much would change from my early 20s to my late 20s. For example, I was telling a friend the other day that in my early 20s I honestly thought I was mature, but with time I now realize how far from the truth I was. In my early 20s some of the ways I would have defined maturity was in terms of your diction (SAT Vocab vs. Using profane language for every other word), the way you dressed, and how financially responsible you are. I would now say that maturity is more of a mindset & inner-being thing vs. having anything to do with extrinsic factors.
Another big change I have noticed is that over the years I’m getting more caught up in routines, habits, and ways of thinking. Not all of this is a bad thing. I’m happy that I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin and I’m better understanding the activities I enjoy which lead to certain routines & habits. That being said, I remember out of college entering the workplace with a sense of naivety which allowed me to explore the world. This naivety was such a blessing, because it gave me the perfect excuse to learn and grow. If I asked “dumb” questions people would write it off as my youth.
Although, at first I resisted and wanted to come off as knowing everything (a mistake I made through a large part of my formal education) there was a point where I embraced not knowing. I would go into meetings and be the one to say I don’t understand and be a sponge learning from everyone around me.
Since I’ve come back from traveling and have started thinking about the next things I want to explore, I’ve been overcome with a self imposed pressure to be knowledgeable in conversations and a fear of saying “I don’t know”. This fear is present when people ask me what I want to do next and what ends up coming out is a generic response that shields me from seeming naive and having to explain myself.
My real response as to what I want to focus on next is exploring the intersection of technology & well-being to hopefully start a company in this space. Do I know exactly what the product is? No. Have I ever started a company or know anything about starting a company? No. Do I know anything about raising financing and building a product from the ground up? No. It took me a long time to admit that I want to take a shot at this because as you can see I don’t have some of the prerequisite knowledge.
Now I realize that why I’m drawn to this is exactly because I don’t know this space. All I know is that I love solving problems especially in areas where I have very little experience, because it gives me an excuse to connect with people and learn, which are things that I highly value. If I did know everything or pretended like I did then no growth would happen. I’m actually excited to start meeting with people who do understand these various areas to pick at their brains and learn something new. Am I naive? Possibly, and what’s wrong with that?
I can’t speak for others, but I’ve noticed that in general as I get older and acquire more experience there is an increasing amount of self imposed pressure to have an answer or have an opinion. I’ve realized that when I’m too afraid to say I don’t know something, I’ve closed off the route to actual learning. Lack of learning and lack of growth is the end of living and the beginning of stagnation.
We are growth seeking beings and I think it is important, despite your age, to always approach the world with a sense of curiosity and naivety. If we succumb to the pressures of expectations and what others think, we instantaneously shut the door on a plethora of possible opportunities & experiences in life.
As I work up the courage to publish this post there is this fear inside of me of admitting this to the world, which makes for an even stronger reason to publish it 🙂