Emily Lam

Website           Adventures           Blog  

Monday, April 01, 2013

Being Naïve

When I was younger, my friends use to say things like this to me: "emily, you're so naïve." I would reply defensively, "no, I'm not." They would then say, "we mean it in a good way." And I wouldn't believe them. I would try to spew out some obscure example proving I was not naïve, to which they would nod and say, "sure, emily."

That was how I think most of my friends viewed me growing up. I was the naïve one. And even now, I still do think they think that, even my newer friends. So maybe I am naïve . . .

Being naïve, however, was never a compliment for me. Even now, when I have come to think of being called nerdy as much more of a compliment than being called cool, I don't find naïve something I like to be described as. I don't take offensive to it though. It's just, let's see, the definition for naïve from the Oxford English Dictionary is this:
Originally: natural and unaffected; artless; innocent. Later also: showing a lack of experience, judgement, or wisdom; credulous, gullible
So I guess all those things was/is me. But as you can see from the definition, being naïve is not something people, at least me, strive to be. I didn't want to be naïve. I wanted to be learned, cultured, and wise.

There were advantages of being naïve though. I looked back and realized that my naïvety allowed me to do so many things, things that people who were learned would not do, things present day me probably would not do. Because I was naïve, I wasn't afraid of many things. Not knowing the hard truths of our world meant that I could aspire to be a great pianist, I could write a novel, and I could invent a flying skateboard and/or candy that was both great tasting and healthy. I always thought I would succeed if I tried. I had naïve thoughts. I wasn't fearful; I would jump from the top of a 20ft high slide post when I was 3 ft tall for funs, seemingly unaware of the dangers of broken bones. I was hopeful: I would believe I could draw my own comics without realizing how terrible they were and how much it looked like bad, really bad, imitations of stereotypical mangas. And I wasn't afraid to try new things: I joined the gymnastic team in high school as someone who had never done gymnastic before and was not embarrassed. In a way, being naïve freed me to do the things I wanted.

I didn't realize how incapable I was until college, when I had become more learned of our society. And that's when I started to limit myself. I started to believe that I could do only one thing, that is become an engineer -- I was good at math and science and had a decent imagination, so becoming an engineer would be where I would succeed. I embraced any part of myself that was engineering worthy and casted the other parts aside, put them in the limelight. I was actually at one point concerned that I wasn't focused enough on engineering. I did however cling to my dream of one day becoming an Imagineer. And because of that I didn't completely eradicate myself of my other interest because I knew an Imagineer was someone who was learned in multiple subjects. But that is not the right reasons to chase and participate in things. You should participate in them because you have a joy in them and not because you need them for a job. And recently, I have rediscovered my joys for things non-engineering. I am enroll in an Drawing class and I really like. I'm also taking kung fu classes which I really like as well.

The way I described the pros of naïvety reminds me of what J. K. Rowling once said in her Harvard commencement speech that:
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
I think it's a shame that our society limits us so much. That to be learned and wise in our society means that you know how to choose the safest and most successful career, and how to manuer your path in life to obtain that career, that you had the self-dicipline to deprive yourself from going out and staying in to study. That doing what you want is something naive people and those who have failed do. That it takes some form of suffering to be freed from our societies bounds. That in itself is sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment