As we grow older, we tend to find ourselves slowly changing from our reckless ways to a bit more of responsibility. As many new parents are aware, children seem to be a magnet for bouncing into and off of things they really should not, but only to try new and more dangerous stunts as teenagers. As teenagers, we don’t really accept the idea that the consequences for our actions could be too terrible, until it happens of course. We see it all the time in videos on the internet, some insanely bright individual decides that his calculations about how to ride his bike off a handrail into a bag of lightbulbs on fire are absolutely correct and, let me stress this, will be totally cool.
We know how this turns out, and your health insurance company drops you due to their magnificent losses that year [For my Universal Healthcare Jedi, the appropriate joke is: “We know how this turns out, you spend the next 18 hours waiting for the nurse to register you for your appointment next week for your son’s bleeding.”].
As we sit there, waiting for the doctor to finish, we shake our heads and think “That was such an insanely dumb thing to do, why did they do it?” And often, we look into our own pasts and we find our own versions of the Lit Imagination 360 off the Rail trick, they just take different forms, and we learned from them. As silly, asinine, and stupid as it sounds, things like this are important in our youth, which is really great that we have some suspension of fearful mortality. This allows us to learn and understand our limits, which we often can’t do if we aren’t pushing the bounds of our abilities.
In our youth, in anything, we find ourselves bumping into barriers, we find ourself crossing lines, and we end up getting a little bruised. We experience these things in so many ways, how many times have you said the wrong thing to the person you liked? How many times have you messed up the interview, asked the wrong question, made some small social flub? How many times were you so excited about a new project that you didn’t count all your materials? We learn from experience the best, as humans we remember the negative experiences because remembering that the growling sound in the bush means pointy bad times is what keeps us alive. Let me repeat that, we remember negative experiences because it’s a survival trait.
As we grow older, however, we become more cautious. We have more invested, we break easier, it hurts more. A teen who is in a cast for a week gets school brought to him, an adult loses a week of wages AND has to pay the bill. A teenager can drop their job in a moment, an adult can’t. There’s just so much more to risk, but we also have the benefit of knowing what will and won’t work.
As adults, we have the benefit of experience, but in that benefit we also have a curse. We think we know how it will turn out. Not everything is pure math, situations change. Do you remember that delightful line from Yoda, “Unlearn what you have learned?” That’s the kicker here, if we believe in the walls we have discovered already, we are contained by those walls. By pushing those walls, by trying to get around them, by jumping above them, digger deeper, finding new ways to approach the same subject we find new ways to succeed. We are always going to be reckless in something when we first approach it, we will always be the new hand somehow even if it’s being new to a specific technique. This is how we grow the fastest.
This doesn’t mean being dumb with something. You can be reckless without being foolish, reckless might be willing to try doing a backflip off the wall, foolish is thinking you can run through the concrete wall. Here’s also something to consider, you can make it so you can be safely reckless with your experience. I am far more likely to try doing a sweet backflip off the wall if I have something soft on the ground in case I fall. In fact, I’m more likely to try multiple times until I get it right. I’ve set the stage so I can be reckless -intelligently-.
When you approach your studies, or your life, know your limits, but also push them smartly. Be intelligently reckless until you know enough to be responsible about it. Fun tip, that makes you responsible, even if you are doing backflips off that wall. You can be both responsible AND reckless. A more adult version is having a designated driver if you are drinking, you have set it up so that when you are in a situation you have an easy out.
Be reckless, Jedi. You move faster and learn more about yourself in how you respond in the moment, but plan ahead and be responsible with it. There’s a difference between taking a chance and a calculated risk.