Every man has two educations – that which is given to him, and the other, that which he gives to himself. Of the two kinds, the latter is by far the most valuable. Indeed, all that is most worthy in a man, he must work out and conquer for himself. It is that that constitutes our real and best nourishment. What we are merely taught seldom nourishes the mind like that which we teach ourselves. – Jean Paul Richter
… or woman, I would add.
At sometime in our lives we all come to question some concept or system we were taught as children.
A breach of trust or an injustice we cannot rectify, or a truth we learn about ourselves or the world beyond the one we were raised in, all can initiate the idea that there is more to observe and consider than the mind of a child can process.
It is a sign of a shifting adolescence, a person moving from trust and innocence into defining themselves and beginning the journey to adulthood, where we are often required to hold multiple perspectives, including those outside of what we are taught as right and wrong. true and false.
Its not that what we are taught is wrong, always. As we age, our personal and individual experience grows larger than the lessons we learned. We begin to question, to push boundaries, to learn what holds true from our lessons and what we need to develop a new, more mature relationship with.
For some of us it may take a lifetime to find some sense of completeness between what we take on faith and what we need to learn for ourselves. Others find those answers quickly. Sometimes we run back into the safety and comfort of what we are taught. Sometimes we run away from it and never consider it again.
The real mark of someone who has moved into adulthood (in my opinion) is when we can take these two educations and consider them equally – telling the true from the false, the useful from useless, the utilitarian from the selfish. Then making the choices which best serve our communities, our resources, and yes, even our self interest. To consider these together, with and against each other, to make the choices that serve both those we love, and again yes, our personal goals and success.
To hold what we we are taught, what we take on faith, against what we experience and learn is to hold the “greater good” against our personal ambitions. One cannot happen with our the other. We cannot test our beliefs we if have none to test. We cannot hope to accomplish good for ourselves without some measure of consideration for those around us.
Finding that balance, making that move into maturity, means continuing to learn about ourselves, the world around us, and communities and people we interact with – whether we agree with them or not, whether we like them or not.
Expand your second education. The one you create for yourself.