I am becoming aware that there are people out there who want to be led through life by the nose. These people are the ones who want to know exactly what's going to happen in any given situation and get annoyed with trial and error. They want someone to do the trial and error first, so that when they come along there's a tried and tested formula that means everything goes smoothly without hassle, mistakes or challenge.
When we landed back in NZ there was such a woman at the airport. She was part of a tour and the tour guide had told them to go have breakfast and then meet at the bus stop for a ride to the domestic terminal. She was the first to arrive at the bus stop and was angrily asking everyone there (random people) what was happening, and complaining loudly that there was nobody around to tell her what to do. She was annoying enough that we chose to walk to the domestic terminal rather than wait for the bus. I'm not sure why she couldn't figure out how to sort out her problem, or why she expected the people standing around to be able to help her.
It was almost as if she didn't trust her own judgement.
I'm wondering where this attitude stems from. I know one of the most difficult parts of working with teenagers was teaching them to think for themselves instead of always using my brain. "How do you spell....?" "Here's the dictionary." "But that's too hard..." *sigh*
I know that the crowd control aspect of school classrooms is easier if the kids don't think for themselves, and a lot of what kids get taught at school is about how if you're cheeky (ie have lots of hard questions) the teachers don't like you and if you're brainy (ie can answer hard questions) the other kids don't like you. If you're both, nobody likes you. And of course the uniforms, the bells, the assemblies, the singing of the national anthem, all this stuff trains kids not to think for themselves but to do as they are told. So I ended up with a class full of students who were on the verge of becoming adults (ie about to have to start thinking for themselves), with no idea how to do anything except wait to be told what to do. *sigh again*
I wonder how much of this surrendering of personal power/reponsibility holds over into our adult lives? I was involved in an abusive relationship. Very abusive. After seven years I left. Good on me, right? Yep. But after leaving, one of the hardest things for me to deal with was the fact that I now no longer had a scapegoat, that I was responsible for myself and my own decisions, and that I must live with the consequences of whatever I did.
You see, while I was in the relationship, someone else was controlling my life. If something went wrong, I could blame him. If I didn't like it, I had someone to be angry at. I could pass the buck of decision making on to someone else. I was powerless and therefore safe from responsibility. Then all of a sudden there was only me, and I made bad decisions and had to live with them. I'm a better person for it, but my point is, it's easier to have less power, and I suspect that is one of the reasons I stayed in the relationship so long. Horrible as he was to me, he was a buffer between me and the real world, and I always had someone else to blame.
OK so that's an extreme example, but that guy was my comfort zone. Not being responsible was my comfort zone, and I suspect this might be the case for a lot of people. Having to think for yourself and being responsible for your own actions seems too hard - easier to follow orders and never fail than to struggle, make mistakes and grow.
I guess it's about going outside the comfort zone. And no, I'm not talking about bungy jumping. I'm talking about trying and failing and learning, without waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. Somewhere between learning to walk and leaving school, we forget how to do it. Re-learning is hard.
But you know, I'd rather fail 50 times and finally succeed, having figured it out for myself, than succeed first time by riding on someone else's thinking and just following orders.
Disclaimer: Yes Jez, there are exceptions. Reading the instructions being one of them. I'm talking a little more esoterically than that.
Gosh. This post wasn't meant to be that long. Yeah I have a bee in my bonnet about this. Long and not particularly interesting story, to do with MMORPGs and wiping and people who've forgotten how to have fun.