Down but not Out

I haven’t been here in a while. I was chasing dreams that evaded reality. I’m hoping to be this elephant:

You're alright. Keep moving.


On the Self-serving Bias

I recently completed a course in Social Psychology and amongst the many interesting things I learned, one came to mind today: the Self-serving Bias. To put it simply, the theory of self-serving bias implies that once we hold a certain belief, we will look for evidence to prove that belief rather than seek to disprove it. Isn’t that natural, you might think? Well, yes, it is, but it can lead to problems when left unchecked. We may at times hold certain negative beliefs that might later cause us problems, change our relationships, or affect others. Thus, social psychologists simply suggest that when it comes to certain beliefs, say for example, you’re introduced to someone new and you are led to somehow believe this person is boring, it would be better to look for interesting aspects of this person’s personality rather than dismiss them as someone you’re not interested in. You might just end up making a new friend, rather than shrugging someone off based on an unfound belief. After being made aware of the self-serving bias, I regularly try to question my judgements. This has turned out to be a useful exercise, however, sometimes I’ve found myself explicitly searching too hard for disproving evidence. This happened recently in the case of some friends that I had side-lined from my life. I was left wondering if I had made the wrong decision, if what I had believed about their behaviour was too harsh a judgement. I could think of many arguments against my decision to keep them aside, but I realised that I could find even more arguments in favour of my decision. I looked to the friends I had kept, and it was so easy to see that I had made the right choice. So, I’m glad I took the time out to question my beliefs, it showed me that what I had done was in fact the right thing to do, and wiped out all doubt from my mind.

If you are reading this and were not aware of the self-serving bias earlier, I hope you’ll try to keep it mind now on. It could help you save a friendship, or help you get past one.

On the path of life

This post is an answer to the prompt “You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma marter—about the path of life (whoa). Draft the speech.

The path of life is defined by two constants—change and uncertainty. You may have it all figured out in your mind but things will most likely go a different way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As your life path twists and turns, you will too. With age and experience, ideas change, views change, situations change, means change, and longstanding dreams can also change.

When I was 13, I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. By the time I was 16, I didn’t want to anymore. But you’ll say that’s ok, the resolutions we make as little children and teenagers almost always change, and I agree with you.

But then again, when I was 18, I wanted to be married by the time I was 24, I thought anything beyond that would be too late. I’m 25 and single now and I can’t imagine wanting to be married for a few more years. But who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll change again.

Life changed me, the decisions I made changed me, the experiences I had changed me, and quite importantly, the people I surrounded myself with changed me.

I currently work in writing and marketing. For almost four years now I have tried to decide between the two disciplines, and failed at picking just one. If you absolutely forced me to choose, I am still uncertain about which one I’d choose.

I realised that things started becoming more and more uncertain after I left school. Uncertainty was everywhere—which college I’d get into, which one I’d choose, what jobs I would apply for, so on and so forth.

I’m sure by now you get the gist of what I’m trying to say, especially because I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before. And even though this might just be a reiteration, it doesn’t make it any less real or true.

So, what I’m saying is, you never know where the path of life will take you. If you are the type of person who likes to have a plan, go ahead and make one, but allow for inconsistances when it comes to implementation. This path will take you to some beautiful places and some horrible ones, some happy phases and some lonely ones, but know that it might change at any moment. I’m not going to end by asking you to enjoy the journey, because a lot of times it will be far from enjoyable, but I am asking you to remember that things change and when you feel uncertain, lost, and down and out the most, try to fret a little less because you could be next in line for change.