Today’s post was written by Casey McGoff of Killing College, a blog for young people seeking alternatives to college and success after opting out. Contact Casey at email@example.com or check out Casey’s previous guest post “How to Gain Credibility Without a College Degree in Less Than a Day.”
When I was younger, I used to say how much I hated skiing. I said it every year, when our family would take a day trip to a nearby mountain. I remember my dad being so bothered by that because, as he said, it was a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Here’s what he told me:
You are missing out on something incredible, just because you tell yourself a ‘story’ about not liking it.
I missed out on years of beautiful skiing, an opportunity most people will never have, because I convinced myself that “it wasn’t my thing.” I stayed in the lodge reading most of the time.
It was a damaging story I told about myself. But stories can do a lot more damage than that.
Do you know why stories are so dangerous? It’s because if you don’t watch them closely, they can destroy you. They will destroy you, and you won’t know until it’s far too late.
Have you ever thought something like this?
- I’m not a creative person
- I’m not a blue-collar/white-collar person
- I’m not the entrepreneurial type
- I’m not a (insert archetype)
Engineers aren’t born engineers. Artists aren’t born artists. Leaders aren’t born leaders. In a few isolated cases, certain people are born with greater aptitudes for certain roles in life, but that is truly rare.
We can be whatever we want. You can be whatever you want.
I know that sounds “new agey” and “self-helpy,” but it’s true.
If you are like me, you might find yourself saying something like this,
I can’t code or program. I can’t build an app. I am not a TECH person. That’s just not me!
By saying that, or even thinking it, I disqualify myself from dozens of jobs. High-paying, rewarding jobs.
Just look at LinkedIn’s 25 most in-demand skills.
The truth is, I might make a great developer or data scientist (neither of which require a college degree, by the way.)
I don’t know yet.
What I do know is that last year, I told myself I couldn’t be a writer.
I’m just not the creative type. No one cares about what I have to say.
Now I am making money as a writer AND writing for my blog on the side.
Let’s take one more example that may resonate with some of you.
EVERYONE sees him as the engineer. He is a problem solver. He likes to build things. He is analytical. It seems like he was born like this. And I am often tempted to believe that because it allows me to wonder,
What was I born to do?
and then sit around, doing nothing, with the excuse that I “haven’t found it yet.”
That’s a trap. You don’t just “find it” one day. You become it.
You are what you make of yourself.
My brother and I, two years apart, were like twins growing up. Our interests were identical. No one would have ever said he was more analytical than me. No one would have ever said he was the “engineer” of the group.
But then he went to one of the best engineering schools in the world and worked really hard. Now he is an engineer. He didn’t realize what he was. He didn’t discover it. He MADE it. He BUILT himself.
He is also one of the only people from his class to start a business before graduation. I think the rest of them were saying,
I’m not smart enough to do that. I am the type of person who should join the workforce first, and then maybe start a business later.
There’s another self-limiting story for you! Don’t fall for it.
Stories can work to our benefit too. In fact, if we use them right, they can make us unstoppable.
When I go into an interview or speak in front of a crowd, sometimes I get really nervous or self-conscious because I didn’t finish college.
So I tell the same story over and over in my head:
These people can’t wait to talk to me. They are going to hang on every word I say. They are going to think, “this kid is so smart, he was able to drop out of college and still do really well.”
Do I really think I am such a fascinating person? Not really. But telling that story helps me beat the nerves.
It’s a story that helps me rather than hurts me.
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