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He never grew up, but he never stopped growing

He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.

- Arthur C. Clarke (when asked what he wanted written on his tombstone)

In retrospect, I tend to underestimate a lot of things. I underestimate challenges. I underestimate my own limits. I underestimate authority. I routinely underestimate how difficult something is going to be to accomplish.

More often than not, I've found this useful, as a person can grow and learn from the circumstances he throws himself into. If I knew in advance truly how difficult it would be to accomplish something, I could honestly estimate that it was beyond the capabilities I started out with. I wouldn't even try. However, I have found that if you try hard enough, you can usually learn to do things you could have fairly been judged previously to be incapable of. So you see, a kind of simpleminded optimistic overconfidence can actually be an asset, if you are stubborn enough to follow through.

When you're starting out on an new challenge in life, you shouldn't give too much weight to your current skillset. Your current skillset is useful, but it is most likely significantly inadequate for the challenges ahead. No, what matters is not what you are, but what you can become, so long as you have sufficient motivation and the passion to overcome challenges, you can grow into the kind of person you need to be a few years down the road.

Shooting for the moon does come with a few gotchas however. One common pitfall it that you tend to become very sensitive to what other people think of you. Watch out for that. Before you get defensive (or aggressive) consider whether you aren't really projecting on to others your own subconscious fears regarding inadequacy. A mild inferiority complex.

Yes, you are inadequate, get over it. You are going to experience a continual state of inadequacy for the next few years, maybe more if you're lucky (that means you're still pushing the envelope!). This will require some compromise with your ego, which is always trying to pull you back into the comfort zone. You shouldn't allow your ego to shield you from criticism. You're smarter than that.

Instead, you should gladly embrace this experience as an opportunity to grow. Remember though, that you don't get to grow for free. Growing is painful. What you need to do is somehow cross your wires so you become addicted to that sweet growing pain. No pain, no gain.

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