38. Growing Up

I’m 22 years old now, take a few days.

If there’s one thing I’d pride myself with, it’s that I know my way around people’s minds. Not in a manipulative, you-are-my-puppet, supervillain kind of way, but simply that I know how to take a step back and empathize with other people’s ways of rationalizing and thinking. It certainly helps to quell many frustrations I otherwise would have had, but if my experiences are anything to go by, it’s not exactly the hallmark of a strong leader.

(the most effective leaders I’ve seen – people who gets people together to get things done – have been mostly hardheaded, stubborn, inflexible. Also, earlier this week I had learned in Organizational Behavior class that a listening culture isn’t even essential to organizational efficiency – in fact, it’s rated as one of the most unimportant factors)

But I digress.

In many ways, growing up has taught me that people behave in the way they do for very good reasons. They may not sound like good reasons to me, but they sure as hell are perfectly sound reasons to them. “Them” as in people. As far as I can tear my hair out in bewilderment and wonder out loud, “You want to spend the rest of your life auditing?”, I am sure there are people who will tear their hair out in equal measures at my career choice: “You want to spend the rest of your life making up stuff and writing them down?”

In this aspect, I guess you could say that I understand people. It makes me quite a passive person, I think – I rarely ever challenge people’s way of thinking, because I understand, at least in part, where they are coming from. Sure, they may sound stupid to me – but that’s only my opinion. Some of the ideas I consider to be brilliant are considered to be stupid by some other people, so who’s to say for sure what’s smart and what’s not, right?

(I suppose this is what makes me a pretty decent storyteller, that I can understand people’s motivations and thought patterns)

Growing up has taught me that everyone is the center of their own universe. They are the heroes of their own stories. When people choose to do what they do, or to say what they say, most of the time, they honestly, completely believe that what they do or say is the rightest thing in the universe – their universe. But this by no means should imply that everyone is egocentric and selfish – no, far from it.

Growing up has taught me that everyone is trying their best to be the best person they can be.

Yes, even the homeless man hanging around the pedestrian bridge. Even the jerk who shoved you aside while you were going up the stairs. Even the man who abuses his wife in a drunken rage – none of them woke up this morning deciding to be evil. None of them woke up and decided to inflict harm upon the world. They are all – in their own twisted ways – trying to be the best person that they can be. Whether they are doing it right, though, is a whole different matter.

What everyone needs, I think, is just a nudge in the right direction – wherever that may be. And only God knows, maybe as everyone tries to do the best they can – with an ushering down the right path, they might just end up doing the right thing.

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