In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Who Will You Be in Ten Years?

Can you imagine yourself 10, 20 or 30 years from now?  Who will you be? What will you care about?  According to an article I read recently, few of us can predict the answers to these questions.  “You Can't See It, But You'll Be A Different Person In 10 Years” by Nell Greenfieldboyce from NPR discusses this very subject.  Daniel Gilbert, a psychology researcher at Harvard University has found that even those of us with many decades under our belts cannot imagine how we might feel differently in the future. According to the article, “[Researchers] found that people underestimated how much they will change in the future. People just didn't recognize how much their seemingly essential selves would shift and grow. And this was true whether they were in their teen years or middle-aged.”

What astounds me most about this idea is that even while considering this, I am still unable to conceive of feeling any differently or changing my wants and desires in the next 10 years.  So that means even though I can look back at my 30-year old self and, with the wisdom of middle-age, chuckle at the young woman I was then, in another 10 years I might have just as much to laugh about.

Lately, I’ve had reason to ponder mightily on this subject.  After living in a wonderful home in a great community for eleven years, my sister, her husband and I decided to sell our house and move. We had spent the last decade renovating two bathrooms, a master bedroom, re-landscaping the yards, and planting trees and flowering shrubs to create a haven for wildlife. Only a little over a year ago we made a major renovation to our kitchen, combining all our desires into one dream room.  In December we threw a party for over 60 people to show them the new kitchen.
 And then – after believing that I would live in that very house until I retired or even long after retirement, we decided to sell.  It doesn’t matter that the idea came from my brother-in-law, or that he had to convince me the move would be a positive thing.  The important thing is that I went from resistance and fear to embracing that change, and embracing a new place to house my ever-changing self.

Even though I have moved many, many times throughout my adult life, somehow this one was different because I never expected it to happen.

I didn’t tell anyone about our move until all was said and done because I knew none of my friends and family would believe our decision.  It was difficult to explain the change of heart that had led to the decision. mostly because I was flabbergasted at myself.


  How could I have been so short-sighted?  After all, I have lived in eight other places throughout my adult life.  Each one was the right place for that time in my life.  As I grew older, what I wanted changed as well.  Yet, even with all that experience behind me - just as Daniel Gilbert predicted - I surprised myself once again.