What do “they know?”

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

My previous blog entry, dated 5.3.10, discussed what “I can’t” really means, i.e. usually “I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how.” But what about when someone says “You can’t”? Does that translate to them as “They don’t want to” or “They don’t know how”? I’m not so sure about that.

My own personal experience, and the experience of those whom I have interviewed is, “They don’t want YOU to.” When you go against what has been accepted in your circles, you are expanding the rules of acceptability. (see blog entry dated 2.15.10, “Breaking the Cycle”) If you go to college, and they haven’t, they may wonder, “What does that say about them?” But, you cannot live your life for other people. Those other people are not inside your head.

You have your own dreams and goals. You have your own curiosities. Sometimes you need to forge ahead with blinders on so that you do not see the actions of those on the periphery. Maybe you just want to take one course to see if you can do it. That is a challenge you have laid down for yourself. Maybe one course will answer your questions. Maybe one course will raise even more questions.

The fact remains that your life is lived by you. Those other people are merely looking on. However, who knows? Your simple, yet brave, example may be the catalyst others need to take the plunge themselves. That would be a nice byproduct of your new venture, but certainly cannot be the central reason. Do it for you. Do it because you can.

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