I recently listened to a Ted Talk about millennials and their desire to be taught how to be independent and empowered. One extreme example in how far some had strayed from independence (or the speaker would argue she was never taught otherwise because of parents who enabled her) focused on a college-age girl who needed a stamp. Whenever she needed a stamp, she would call her mom, and her mom would then mail it to her!
While I find this appalling on so many levels, if I’m being honest, I found a trace of myself in this story. In this age of technology, what we want or need is generally immediately available at our fingertips or can be delivered on our doorstep in less than 48 hours. When we have a question, we don’t have to go anywhere to get an answer, we just turn to our smart phones. When we need to see how something is done, we YouTube it. There is no immediate need for us to better ourselves by learning a new skill because we can just find a bandaid fix that takes care of our need without any real thought on our part going into it.
The fatal flaw that this system contains is that we’re
not learning and bettering ourselves. If the problem comes up again, we’ll just YouTube it again. We’re not learning anything. Just like if the aforementioned girl needs a stamp again, she’ll just call her mom. She won’t learn where her closest post office is. She won’t research a list of stores that also sell stamps that she could buy when she’s there already buying something else. She’ll never know that she can print postage online and not even have to leave her home (or wait for her mom’s stamp to arrive).
What skill are you purposely not learning because you’ve reasoned that you don’t need to: Why garden when I can just go to a farmer’s market? Why learn how to change a tire when I can just call AAA? Why learn how to can food when I can buy it for cheaper in the stores and pay less? Why figure out which clothes flatter my figure and then research which stores sell those clothes for the best price when I can just get an online stylist to send me clothes regardless of the price? (Full disclosure, I subscribe to an online stylist, and I love it! But I did a lot of research beforehand, and I always know exactly what the price comparison is and if it’s worth it to me.) Why write a budget and learn money management when I can just open another credit card? Why learn how to sew and patch my family’s clothes when I can just throw them away and buy more?
I admit, at times there is some legitimacy to these reasonings. We do live in an age of convenience, and time is money, so sometimes it is worth it to pay someone else to do it for us (one of the main reasons I subscribe to an online stylist). But, how many times do we have to YouTube a solution before we realize, “Hm, I could just learn how to do this myself, buy the supplies ahead of time so I’m not scrambling when I need to do this again, and solve this problem in half the time next time it happens.”
RIP THE BAND AID OFF!
These bandaid fixes don’t address the root of the problem. They will always be just that–a band aid. And, allow me to get a little graphic for a moment, but let’s think about band aids for a minute:
A band aid . . .
. . . is not attractive.
. . . is itchy and uncomfortable.
. . . signals a blemish you are trying to hide.
. . . is supposed to be flesh color, but it’s not (i.e., what you think is camouflaging the problem is actually calling attention to it).
.. . requires extra maintenance; it begs to be replaced or taken care of every couple of hours (e.g., a bandage on a finger falls off each time you wash your hands).
. . . chokes the wound from healing oxygen, so it actually prolongs the healing process.
All of these traits of a bandaid are counterproductive to the desired purpose of the band aid. And while it seems convenient at the time to just use a band aid approach to your problems, it’s also counterproductive to your desired outcome. It’s time to rip the band aid off and deal with the root of the issue. In order to step it up to a new level of independence, it starts with a commitment to stop masking the problem
I’m all about looking past the symptoms and addressing the root of the problem. So let’s call a spade a spade here. The root of the problem is laziness. Ouch, right? (Please understand, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you cringing at the truth, realizing I need to step it up in some areas.) But if we’re being honest, we just don’t want to make that extra effort to learn something new. So in our busyness, we put a pretty sign on laziness and call it something more acceptable like balance, wisdom, or #aintnobodygottimeforthat. But let’s take the pretty sign off, and let’s rise to the challenge to learn something new.
For me, it was learning how to can food. I do not have time for that. My family eats the food before I can can it. I know my stores, so I can get the food for cheaper. And the excuses went on. But every time I talked to a friend who canned something the week before, I had this twinge wishing that were me. And when a friend gave a canned food to a friend as a housewarming gift, I wished that I could be the one doing that. And when another friend talked about how little they frequent the grocery store, I wanted that to be me. And when I read too many articles about the state of our food, especially food sold in a grocery store, I would long to fill my pantry with nutrient-dense foods that I had been involved with from ground to can.
So, I finally borrowed some supplies, called a friend to help, and I did it. I canned dilly beans on my own, and later I canned meat with a pressure canner. The time it took wasn’t nearly what I thought it would be, and I silenced that little voice that was nagging me to get closer to my food. I loved it! I started small, and I will hopefully increase next year. But it was one baby step that, for me personally, I really wanted to do, and I feel great because I did.
SO, WHAT’S THE BALANCE?
As we’ll talk in other posts, there is a balance. This is not meant to riddle you with guilt and anxiety about what you’re not doing. This is simply a confirmation that the little voice in your head knows what it’s talking about when it tells you to stop putting off something you know you should learn how to do yourself. And, it’s all about the baby steps. Pick ONE skill to learn. One. Don’t pick five. Don’t make a list of ten. Just pick one.
And when you do it, revel in your accomplishment for awhile, but don’t get lazy again.
One step is worth great celebration!
And follow it up with a new skill you want to learn. You don’t have to do it immediately after you learn your first skill, but pull up your calendar, pick a date to start learning a new skill (you can change if something else comes up), and set a deadline. Setbacks will come, but don’t let one setback derail you. Commit to keep moving forward.
THE CHALLENGE: What’s one skill you’ve been putting off learning, but you’re committing now to learn? I can’t wait to read your answers in the comments!