Thursday, April 22, 2010

The importance of unlearning

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. Mark Twain

Everyday, on this journey we call life, we are learning. We start learning from a young age, from our parents, from school, from teachers, and from our friends. We learn from textbooks, and from experiences. We are constantly storing our own set of 'life rules' in our head, and we are on a never-ending journey of self discovery. However, there are some things we learn that we should 'unlearn', because not all things we learn are true. Things we've learned that we thought, at one point, were expected of us, or things that were considered 'right'. Now, as adults, we can choose to ignore. And we can unlearn.

Here are ten rules I have unlearned:

Sharing means caring: Okay, so yes. It is sooo good to share. We learned that sharing is important when we were in nursery school. But really? It isn't always FUN to share, you know. I tell my boys everyday: "Please share." And inevitably, someone gets sad, because someone has to give up the object they are playing with to SHARE! In a house filled with toys, can't one of my children find something else to play with so I don't have to tell them to share and witness yet another meltdown? Also? I don't like sharing. There, I said it. I hate sharing my french fries. AND ESPECIALLY MY POPCORN at the movies. DO NOT TAKE MY POPCORN! Get your own damn popcorn. I also hated it when people asked for a drag from my cigarette. I'd just give them their own. So, sharing is good but let's unlearn that it's the most important thing, okay? Sharing means caring sometimes.

Be nice: I am nice. Most of the time. I don't like being mean to people, and I try to be fair. In grade 7, a group of my so-called friends huddled together during recess and decided not to be nice to me anymore because my boobs were bigger than theirs. And they thought I was using my boobs to get attention from the boys. And I was NOT. And so, I have unlearned that I should be nice all the time. It depends on the situation. And who is around me.
And playgrounds/recess/school = cesspool for mean girls. So protect yourself, and your children. Teach your kids to be nice, fair and kind but prepare them also that the world can be harsh. Girls can be bitches. So be nice. But be on guard!

Be super healthy: Don't get mad - I understand that staying fit and eating well are key to living a long and healthy life. Organic foods. Lots of veggies. No smoking. Limited drinking. Sleeping 8 hours a night. Yada yada yada. I respect healthly people who manage to get 8 servings of fruits and vegetables in their children daily. It's just, I don't. My kids don't LOVE veggies. Aside from some - tomatoes, corn, peas, carrots, celery - it's hard to get them to eat veggies. And I'm okay with that. They are healthy, active boys. And well, they're well fed. They are Greek, after all.
When I was pregnant I slept for 9 months straight, waking up to eat McFlurries. I was very not active. And I had one of the easiest labour and deliveries ever. My great grandfather lived to 99 and smoked. BUT he enjoyed life. Living in Greece, it's this mentality, this wonderful way of life, that makes people less stressed, and more happy, thus resulting in long lives. The key is lots of sex, wine, good food, and hell, a smoke here and there. Live life! So I sort of unlearned to be super healthy. Right now, I am staying fit - working out four times a week and eating well, and I feel great. But I also know how to induldge!

University is important: Yes. University IS important and I'm glad I went, I'm glad I graduated. It was a great 4 years. But when I fast-tracked the two year Broadcast Journalism course in college - that's when I learned the skills I needed to apply to the real world and was able to get an on-air job in radio. (Don't worry, though, I'm still going to make sure my kids go to University and stay there until they get their Ph.D!) Just make sure to look at all options. University is not for everyone. College is good, too.

Be an adult: There was a point, after University, when it was awesome being an adult, to have no rules to follow, to be living in the real world. Working. Making money. Traveling. Buying a house, getting married. It was all very exciting. Then, becoming a parent - nothing makes a person more of an adult than that! But, pretty soon, you re-discover your innocence, and you experience being a child again. You play with your children, building LEGO towers, making things with PlayDoh, reading children's books, and swinging at the park. Playing soccer in the street, lying down in the grass, and running through the sprinkler. It's fun to unlearn being an adult. Embrace your inner child! It makes being a parent so much more fun!

Aim for perfection: Too often, we push ourselves too hard. Sometimes, we try to be perfect. The truth is, perfection is not attainable. I just don't have the desire to be perfect at anything. I have unlearned to be perfect. Instead, I aim to be the best I can be. I focus on the things that matter in life. All I want at the end of the day is for my children to think I'm a great mommy. Even if I don't always cook dinner and even if sometimes I yell or lose my patience. We should all aim to be the best we can be. That is good enough!

Words don't hurt: We all remember "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." This simply is not true. Words sting. Words can hurt. I have unlearned this, and everyday I remind myself to think before I speak, because sometimes, words, as innocent and cute as they seem, can hurt.

It matters what others think: It can be downright stressful when we focus on what other people think about us. "What will they think if I say this?" "What shoes should I wear?" "How should I style my hair?" "What if my parenting style is different than hers?" You know what I'm unlearning? It doesn't matter what other people think! If someone doesn't like you - who cares? They are NOT WORTH it. Be true to yourself. People like that! Do things for you.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: Sadly, I have unlearned this from being the truth. When I go through certain experiences, life changing experinces that make me truly worry, like when one of my children is sick, I don't come out of it stronger. Maybe this is not true for you, but for me, it only makes me weaker, and it makes me worry more. What doesn't kill me makes me weaker.

You can't always get what you want: I don't have the luxury to fly to Monaco for the weekend, and I don't live in a 6,000 square foot home. But I have everything I want. And everything I need. I have learned that you CAN get what you want. You just have to do it! After University, I wanted to see L.A. and work for Entertainment Tonight. I applied to be an intern, and one day, an acceptance letter came in the mail. I never thought it would happen, but it did. That is one experience I made happen for myself. Whatever you want in life - do it. Try. Don't give up! I have unlearned that you can't always get what you want. You so can!


This blog post was inspired by Mama Kat's fabulous Writer's Workshop!

22 comments:

Nummies said...

This is my fav of your post so far! I LOVE it :)
best line "I am nice. Most of the time"

I think we are always learning and unlearning all the time, from our experiences and from others

T Rex Mom said...

You make some excellent unlearning points - words do hurt and I, too, have had to learn everything does not have to be perfect.

Nikosmommy said...

I so agree with your thoughts on being healthy..and the Greek mentality of not stressing over things- indulging in moderation etc. And I also totally agree with what you said about going to university. While I'm very proud of my degree, my 2 year post degree program is what got me my first job in my field! There is more than one way to skin a cat and it doesn't always mean that a uni degree is the only way to go!!! (I'll be sure to encourage my boys to go on to post secondary school, studying whatever it is that they feel passionate about!!!)

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...

Loved this post....

Sharing is Caring? Eh...I don't care to share.

I'm not that nice all the time. I don't really like being nice. Ok, maybe I just don't like people?

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

I love it! some things do need to be UNLEARNED!

Summer said...

great post. i am rolling over the sharing...i hate to share haha!! i've gotten better at it but seriously, NOT my favorite thing haha!

words DO hurt and take longer to heal...plus the scar is always deeper.

great post girl!

Summer
@summerjoy

Connie Weiss said...

These are all great! I don't want a big house anymore... Unless I can have a housekeeper.

Sandy @sandyel said...

Love this post! Great advice! :)

john cave osborne said...

i'm catching up on my blog reading today, and, man, i gotta tell ya, this was possibly my favorite post i've read so far today.

snarky looks good you, girl.

the sharing is caring part made me laugh out loud. solid point about nice, and wonderful use of boobs to illustrate the point.

very clever takes. thank you for this!

BusyDad said...

Word to your mother.

Also, I have KISS action figures in my office. I'm going to un-learn this here management report and go be a kid for a while. Thanks :)

ModernMom said...

Oh Louika I love love this post!

Can I just say that even when I am at home with the Hubs I make him have his own bowl for popcorn! He eats it too fast and then there is not enough left for me:)

I love your rules and now I want to move to Greece:)

Rebecca said...

Incredible post - love it and so true on many levels - we need to reinvent what we have been told to be the truth sometime and find our own truths.

Lady Mama said...

So true - much of the moral stuff we're taught as children becomes less fixed as we get older. The great thing about growing up is that we learn what's important to us. Excellent post! An I'm with you on the healthy thing - I'm never going to be 100% healthy - sometimes I'll slip and eat a (whole) cake, but I'm okay with that!

Sandy said...

I love this post so much I read it twice and emailed it to a friend. Brilliant! Even though I am a professor (and have more years of school than I can count) I love the concept of unlearning, and I am ALWAYS unlearning.

becca said...

I think this is my favorite post of yours! So funny and So True on many levels. Love the sharing one (especially with a girl AND a boy they have NO reason to want to play with each other's toys, but they inevitably do). I also totally agree with the Be Nice one. I'm not always so nice. Not all people deserve me to be nice to them. I actually can't stand people who are ALWAYS nice because it comes across as fake. There, I said it. And my most fave one? The Be an Adult one. Sometimes, you just have to get down on the floor with your kids and remember the innocence of being a child. Look up at the sky as an airplane flies by. Jump for joy at a firefly. Oh to be young again...

Loved this!

Heather @ Gerber Days said...

Hello there! Found you on TMC.

I love how you talk about unlearning. Habits can be hard to change, that is for sure!

I'm printing this off. Glad you posted it!

New follower too. http://www.gerberdaysblog.com

Alyssa said...

This is fabulous!!! So so so true. The "be nice" one particularly resonated with me right now. I am trying to teach my daughter how to protect herself from "less than nice" actions of other children (particularly when she's in school). I think, sometimes, we do take the "rules" as absolutes when, in fact, we need to consider circumstances.
Bravo for a post well done!

CaraBee said...

Good lessons! Hard to unlearn some of those, for sure. I wish I could not care what other people think, but I do. I'm definitely thicker skinned than I used to be, but I am still easily hurt.

PS - What's the difference between university and college? Its the same thing here.

Krystyn said...

You can see the real LouLou coming out here! You are true to yourself and know yourself..and sometimes that's a challenge.

Sarah said...

This is an awesome list. And so creative! I like the point, in particular, about embracing our inner childhood. That is one of the things I am enjoying, the most, with my little one.

hoobingfamilyadventures.com said...

This is fantastic, thank you! I find myself about to tell my daughter one of these "life lessons" and then wanting to add all of the caveats to them, for the very reason you have unlearned them. Awesome!

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

I agree -- this is a great post! So many rules are meant to be broken.

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