“To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.” Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote arrived in my inbox this morning. These particular words resonated the most, “To be mature you have to realize what you value the most. . . Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own value is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”
Intrinsically I know what I value, but am not always committed to putting it into practice. In these days of busy, it is easy to lose what you value the most. Family and social pressure play a big part in this struggle too. So often we are wedded to what is politically correct that our own individual voice becomes part of a chorus. The fear that we may face rejection because we don’t go with the perceived flow is often prominent as it was in high school. In all honesty, acceptance and affirmation are still traits I seek. I am not ready to make the leap of always voicing how my values may be with odd with another. I am not certain, either, that convincing others of what I value is the way to cement those beliefs in myself.
What I value is not always absolute. In fact, the older I get, the black and white thinking I adopted in my twenties, has blurred. I am making more decisions in the grey. As I write this, the lines seen to get more crooked. My ramble here, though, is important. I do believe that there comes a point where you start learning that only a few can understand what you value. And that you are only comfortable announcing these beliefs to a particular few. More and more I am coming to grips that it is impossible to please everyone. There is cost to your own value system in doing so. With that, you also learn that no matter what, not everyone will like you and that is not a bad thing.
After my father passed, I spoke with a temple priest about life, values, and coming in terms with mortality. He used the following analogy in describing his experience: What you think about while you are living is what you will most likely think about when you are dying. The question becomes, “What do you want to put in your soup?” I was not capable of understanding this concept 5 years ago, but now, like the slow drip of a faucet, I realize what he meant to convey.
You have to ascertain what values you want to live with. You have to make your own soup. Because ultimately that is the one YOU will be drinking. And as Eleanor Roosevelt states, if you don’t figure that out, you will miss out on the whole point of what life is for.