A boy stands wide-eyed before his newly assigned second-grade teacher. A new teacher stands wide-eyed before her newly assigned student. Both on their best behavior.
“Do you like to read?” the educator asks.
“Nah…that’s not really my thing. I’m more of a math guy.”
Kid is completely serious. Teacher stares in slight disbelief. Mom crawls under the nearest table.
Two years into elementary school and he has already determined his thing. And ruled out the others.
It’s laughable for us adults. We know how foundational reading is. We know everything else builds off it. We know at seven, he is still developing and while he may love one subject, he could still be good at and enjoy many more.
But, I do it, too.
Morning is not really my thing.
Coffee is not really my thing.
The great outdoors is not really my thing.
Classical music is not really my thing.
Hockey is not really my thing.
Cleaning is not really my thing.
Risk-taking is not really my thing.
Sewing is not really my thing.
Seafood is not really my thing.
Babysitting is not really my thing. (Oddly, and thankfully, not a prerequisite for having kids)
When I make those statements, I close myself off to learning a new skill, acquiring a new taste, developing a new passion. I close myself off to growing as a person.
At some point, people stop growing physically (or we at least stop growing in a good direction!). But, that doesn’t mean we are supposed to stop growing mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
I often hear others say:
“Well, I’m not good with _______” or “I’m not a _______ person,” where the blank is filled with
The bottom line: they are exempt from this opportunity/task/need/circumstance/conversation because of their self-proclamation.
When I’m in those conversations, I want to respond with “You know what IS your thing? Limiting yourself. That’s your thing.”
We are aware adults! We have experience and track records and resumes and stories. We know who we are and what we are good at. We know who we aren’t and what we are bad at. We love personality tests (well, unless personality tests aren’t really your thing.) We love to be affirmed for what we already know about ourselves. If we get results that disagrees with our own assessment, we dismiss them. The test is off or unreliable. We know ourselves and such knowledge guides us.
It’s a good thing.
Unless it limits us. Unless it stunts our growth.
I’ve heard giving kids personality tests can put them in a box and keep them from exploring new things and reaching their potential. (I personally love personality tests and plan to test my kids in every way possible and then keep the results in a vault until they are of age.)
I’m fairly certain (hopeful? desperate?) that my math whiz’s new teacher won’t settle for the “reading’s not really my thing” excuse. But, why do we settle for it ourselves? Why do we shy away from new experiences, dreaded tasks, unfamiliar waters? Why do we assume we know our limits and let ourselves off the hook?
Let’s be triers. Let’s explore the world. Let’s take chances and fail. Let’s create stories. Let’s brave new waters. Let’s conquer fears. Let’s toss our “not my things” in the trash (because recycling isn’t really my thing). Let’s embrace who we are and fiddle with what we thought we weren’t. Let’s be examples to those littles that we are always encouraging to “just try.”
What’s not really your thing? And what are you going to do about it?