My friend was concerned about whether he had gone too far in trying to succeed in his educational goals that he had lost some of his individuality and sensitivity.
This entry is a backhanded approach to improve my readership by one by blogging instead of emailing my response:
Hmm… I think this is something we all go through to some extent as we try to achieve our goals. I remember a classic rock group that sung about how getting educated and becoming institutionalized took away their passion for life. (I’ll let you know when I remember what group it was.) I feel like that sometimes. I suppose in my attempts to be more responsible and better-rounded, I’ve had to give up some aspects of my own personality. I think there are times, however, that giving up our own personalized approach to things is counter-prodcutive. For example, in A Beautiful Mind (a biography I highly recommend), Slyvia Nasar explains how fortunate John Nash was to attend a university like Harvard which had a flexible and adaptive way of bringing out the best in their students. For John Nash, being forced to conform to a stiff regimen may have stifled his creativity and discouraged him. I expect, however, that there must be a balance. On the other side of the coin, in John Nash’s case, the structure which did exist kept Nash focused and motivated, continuing to work on his ideas. Considerate advisers helped him put his energy into his better ideas. For me, the regimen of BYU has helped me discipline myself, focus my energy, and stay productive. But there have been times where I found myself questioning the structure, like when I am memorizing things which really don’t need to be kept in memory–but doing it only for the sake of succeeding on an exam.
I try to keep a balance between doing the things I really enjoy now and the things I feel I should do to prepare for an enjoyable future. Sometimes I find a way to effectively get things done, in a way which I really enjoy–but often I am left to find a balance between effectiveness and enjoyableness. That is to say, I sometimes do tasks in less effective but more enjoyable ways, like listen to music while doing my web design, even if it is a little distracting. I tend to mix my enjoyment and productivity together and it works better for me than switching modes from one extreme to the other all the time. I know many people compartmentalize work and play to a greater extent, which seems to work for them.
I think finding our own approach to accomplishing the daily tasks can be one way to hold onto our individuality without giving up on our goals. Also, from time to time, we should reevaluate the goals we are trying to achieve, and question whether they are worth what we are giving up to achieve them. I think this is a good test for our goals:
“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.”
–Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Once we know what we want, I guess we just have to make sure we are on a path that will lead us there.