Patty Craig: A Slice of Time
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon” (https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/belief). As Roosevelt said, I, too, choose to believe that people (– with the help of God) can make better lives for themselves. However, I’ve concluded that some of the things I believed as a child are not always true.
One of my childhood beliefs was that hard work would lead to success. My parents raised six work-oriented children. Our parents and grandparents were hard-working people, and their examples were powerful. Though our educations and experiences varied, my siblings and I became very focused workers – just like the two preceding generations. Of course, we were taught that through hard work, a person could be successful. Over time, I have realized that hard work is good, but doesn’t necessarily lead to success. First, success is defined differently by different people. And second, many other factors besides hard work affect one’s degree of success. So, this childhood belief falls apart. It wasn’t a bad belief; it was just a narrow explanation, meaning it was not always true.
Wondering how others had changed their thoughts about childhood beliefs, I asked friends and family the following: “Part of growing up includes learning that some things we understood as children are not the way we thought. How have you changed a thought or belief since your childhood? What have you learned?” Their responses are listed below:
•I was always taught to do unto others as you want done unto you. And if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. As a kid, you think that is true for everyone. Then you grow up and see all the mean and evil in the world.
•Working hard will lead to success is one belief, but the biggest lesson was that a lot of people aren’t as credible (truthful, trustworthy, honest, etc.) as the way I was raised by example.
•Two things! First, I believed when I became an adult that I could do anything I wanted, but I soon realized that was not true. My actions always had reactions affecting me and my family. I quickly realized that no woman is an island! Second, I always believed that my life would have a happy ending; but, I now know that my life has had a happy ending. What I thought happiness was and what it is in reality are two different things. I believe for me the word happiness is contentment – contentment in the fact that I have done the best with what I have.
•That adults have all the answers.
•Coming from a divorced family, I believed that if I just tried hard enough, I would never have to do that to my children. What I didn’t understand was that some situations are worse than divorce. Sometimes children are hurt less by the divorce than by staying in constant turmoil.
•I started a list, but it was too long and probably offensive to someone somewhere.
•First, people bring their problems on themselves. Second, the majority of people are honest and kind.
•That’s a hard question. I have learned that political stuff has changed since I was a child. There used to be honorable men in those positions who actually worked to help people. Now, it’s about helping the rich and the corporations because of money! Our political system is a lot more corrupt than I thought.
•When I was little, I grew up thinking that if you lived a good life, then things would be good for the most part; but, I’ve learned that no matter how good you are, bad things still happen. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Sometimes you look at people and think no matter what they do, they come out smelling like a rose. I’ve come to believe that good people will get most of their rewards after they die and that bad people may seem like they get rewarded now, but I realize that their future is going to be bad for eternity. Also, I now realize that sometimes we are used for examples by God and may never know what good comes from things that happen to us. I am learning to be thankful for the good and the bad, knowing that God is in control.
•I’ve learned that calming down will help a lot of situations.
•I used to believe: (1) Most parents were as wonderful as mine, and most kids’ families may have struggled some financially as we did, but they had a house full of love as we did. (2) Most people are good, decent, and hard-working. (3) If you work and watch your spending, you’ll have enough money to get by. (4) Government programs are designed and implemented well to help people, and only those in need use them.
I no longer assume these things are true.
Even though I know that some of my childhood beliefs were not exactly true, I am optimistic that there was a grain of truth – or hope – that caused the adults in my life to teach me those beliefs. As William James said, “Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact” (https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/belief). Maybe childhood beliefs are that simple: the hope that a teaching will result in a fact.