I recall the first time I used that phrase “free thinker”. It was with a cohort who, when challenged on his political rhetoric, I commented I thought he was a free thinker – not a Fox New regurgitator – give me his ideas, not talking points. I was not in the mood to discuss politics with someone who just quoted things instead of researching them first – so it shut him down pretty quick.
Last night, I asked my daughter DJ – the tween almost teen – which she was. Was she a free thinker? Or was she going to subscribe to group think?
A bit of background – some kids in her group of friends have gotten into some pretty significant trouble. The principal is not putting up with it – and, after several warnings, has put an end to it. The group she and the friends belong to? Yeah they think it is because the group is seen as a problem. The kids in question act like victims, others have supported them, so they are all being targeted.
Ah, the advantage of being married to one of her teachers.
We spent a lot of time talking about actions. Are they really being targeted? Or are there some kids who are always in trouble. There are kids always in trouble. Ok. If they are always in trouble, do you think you may be feeling like the group is being targeted because it is – or because they happen to be a part of it?
What started was a conversation about actions and words. If people are always reasonable, why would you expect they are unreasonable this time simply because someone says they are. If they have never demonstrated it, why assume it? We talked about how good of a heart someone can have, but how messed up their view of the world can be.
“Have you ever met someone who thinks it is luck that has gotten you what you have?” I asked her.
“Yeah, I get that when I get good grades – there must be a trick I have or something,” her response was perfect.
So we discussed life – how for some people life is what THEY make of it. While for others, life happens to them. I gave examples using her taekwondo as an example. “A person stuck as a green belt has two options,” I said. “They can blame the instructor on why they haven’t progressed. Or they can admit they don’t practice which is why they can’t pass to the next level. To do the former is to say life happens to you. To do the latter is to say life is what you make of it. To say the latter means taking responsibility for the outcome. To say the former is to make it someone else’s fault. Which do you want to be?”
She concurred that the former was better. She worked her ass off to become a black belt. No one was going to take that away from her or claim it was luck. She made that happen. I commented that she needed to look at her friends that same way. What is their attitude towards what is happening? Life happening to them or are they making it happen?
It was a good conversation. I promised her that she will have people who don’t understand her free thinking ways. They won’t get it because they are victims not action takers. I told her I hated that myself. I told her that it was not my favorite. But I reminded her of who she is. Who she will be.
And in the end, I made her confirm for me that she IS a free thinker.
No group thought for her.
She will make her own destiny.
I hope it sticks.