“It’s Just a Phase”–Is That A Problem?

I wish people would quit knocking “phases.” As if going through a phase, rather than being permanently into something, is less valid, less worthwhile. It insinuates that anything you experience during a phase less real and less valuable.

We adjusted to kids go through phases:  A Dinosaur phase, a sci-fi phase, it’s even a joke about high school and college added kids, but really, is it such a bad thing to go through phases?

Curse-Your-Sudden-But-Inevitable-Betrayal-On-Firefly-Wash

See? Wash didn’t let adulthood get in the way of his good times.

think it’s worse when we stop. When people stop going through phases, it usually means they’ve stopped learning. Phases come about when we encounter new knowledge, belief systems, opinions, and lifestyles, and while the goal is to find the things that fit you and that you’re comfortable with, isn’t it also great to keep learning, exploring, and expanding?

Children will often be all into one thing or another. Egypt, the military, sports, music, you name it. Think how much they learn when their focus is so directed at one thing. Isn’t that awesome? Why do we let ourselves lose that as we get older?

So I say, keep going through phases. Keep exploring new stuff. It doesn’t have to define you, or change an opinion. It doesn’t have to alter any of your beliefs, it’s just good to be exposed to new things, especially things that interest and excite you.

And if you get into something for a while, only to discover after a while that you’re not really that interested in it, quit. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re flaky or immature—they clearly don’t understand what you’re doing, nor do they recognize the value of learning new skills.

The fact is, you don’t have to commit permanently to everything you show interest in: Life is about finding what really resonates with you, and you can’t do that without some trial and error. Don’t let the “error” part scare you. Our culture is, very unfortunately, pretty anti-mistakes, which is just about the biggest mistake you can make.

As such, people will tend to treat your changing and evolving interests as you making “mistakes” and choosing “the wrong” things to do.

In reality, they’re just harboring unhealthy attitudes that, sadly, limit them and their own ability to enjoy life fully.

Don’t let that be you. You never know how valuable all the weird and random things you choose to learn about might be someday. Steve Jobs found much of his design and business inspiration from the classes he chose to sit in on while dropping out of his required courses.

I’m not saying you need to skip out on your responsibilities to pursue your interests, but definitely do make time for those thing that light you up—and remember:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

Find what makes you come alive, and do it. And if you need to go through a few things that only kind of interest you before you find it, do! It’s well worth the time, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll have fun in the process.

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