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The Four Stages of Life

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The Four Stages of Life by : 8:05 am On July 17, 2018

Life is a bitch. Then you die. So while staring at my navel the other day, I decided that that bitch happens in four stages. Here they are.

 

STAGE ONE: MIMICRY

 

We are born helpless. We can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t feed ourselves, can’t even do our own damn taxes.

 

As children, the way we’re wired to learn is by watching and mimicking others. First we learn to do physical skills like walk and talk. Then we develop social skills by watching and mimicking our peers around us. Then, finally, in late childhood, we learn to adapt to our culture by observing the rules and norms around us and trying to behave in such a way that is generally considered acceptable by society.

 

The goal of Stage One is to teach us how to function within society so that we can be autonomous, self-sufficient adults. The idea is that the adults in the community around us help us to reach this point through supporting our ability to make decisions and take action ourselves.

 

But some adults and community members around us suck.1] They punish us for our independence. They don’t support our decisions. And therefore we don’t develop autonomy. We get stuck in Stage One, endlessly mimicking those around us, endlessly attempting to please all so that we might not be judged.2]

 

In a “normal” healthy individual, Stage One will last until late adolescence and early adulthood.3] For some people, it may last further into adulthood. A select few wake up one day at age 45 realizing they’ve never actually lived for themselves and wonder where the hell the years went.

 

This is Stage One. The mimicry. The constant h. The absence of independent thought and personal values.

 

We must be aware of the standards and expectations of those around us. But we must also become strong enough to act in spite of those standards and expectations when we feel it is necessary. We must develop the ability to act by ourselves and for ourselves.

 

STAGE TWO: SELF-DISCOVERY

 

In Stage One, we learn to fit in with the people and culture around us. Stage Two is about learning what makes us different from the people and culture around us. Stage Two requires us to begin making decisions for ourselves, to test ourselves, and to understand ourselves and what makes us unique.

 

Stage Two involves a lot of trial-and-error and experimentation. We experiment with living in new places, hanging out with new people, imbibing new substances, and playing with new people’s orifices.

 

In my Stage Two, I ran off and visited fifty-something countries. My brother’s Stage Two was diving headfirst into the political system in Washington DC. Everyone’s Stage Two is slightly different because every one of us is slightly different.

 

Stage Two is a process of self-discovery. We try things. Some of them go well. Some of them don’t. The goal is to stick with the ones that go well and move on.

 

 

 

Stage Two lasts until we begin to run up against our own limitations. This doesn’t sit well with many people. But despite what Oprah and Deepak Chopra may tell you, discovering your own limitations is a good and healthy thing.

 

You’re just going to be bad at some things, no matter how hard you try. And you need to know what they are. I am not genetically inclined to ever excel at anything athletic whatsoever. It sucked for me to learn that, but I did. I’m also about as capable of feeding myself as an infant drooling applesauce all over the floor. That was important to find out as well. We all must learn what we suck at. And the earlier in our life that we learn it, the better.

 

So we’re just bad at some things. Then there are other things that are great for a while, but begin to have diminishing returns after a few years. Traveling the world is one example. S****g a ton of people is another. Drinking on a Tuesday night is a third. There are many more. Trust me.

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