Some of the most important people in my life have been the people who tell me things I absolutely don’t want to hear. People who illuminate my faults and point out my failures, who let me know when I am wrong and how to be better. (*insert special thanks to my parents here*)
This is never easy to hear, but these conversations aren’t meant to be hurtful or mean. In fact, it might be that the only thing more difficult than listening to someone else point out your faults is pointing out the faults of another. Pointing out someone’s faults is a risk.
Having your flaws pointed out, especially in an honest and forthcoming way is disarming, and unsettling. Too often our pride prevents us from truly listening and taking to heart the feedback we receive. One of my favorite quotes, that I forget all too often is from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.
“When you’re screwing up and no body’s saying anything to you anymore that means they gave up on you […] your critics are the ones that are showing you they still love you and care”
I’ve been lucky to have people throughout my life who have given me this kind of critique. I have had friends and mentors who have been there to remind me that I AM going to be OK, that my crisis isn’t that big of a deal, to think of someone outside myself, and that talking through a movie is extraordinarily annoying.
My most recent feedback was actually from one of my new co-workers. After being thrown into new jobs and being notified of a business trip 700 miles away within the first 48 hours we bonded (like it or not). Walking back from dinner one night, she pointed out that it seems that I spend too much time talking about the past. My home, my school, my friends from other places. And while having a history is great and important, living entirely in the past is immature and quite frankly annoying. She instructed me to live life forward.
Being overwhelmed, a little homesick, intimidated, and scared, this was the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. But after thinking about it, she was right. Its hard to make friends in the present if all you talk about is your past.
There is nothing wrong with sharing your history with people, but its important to live life forward. Focus on the present. Focus on the future, on your goals and dreams and adventures to come. Don’t forget where you’ve been but its hard to move forward if you’re always looking back.