Many times in my life I have used genetics as a sort of determinism to limit my own potential. Certainly, there are things that I am genetically incapable of doing, but that list is much smaller than I usually realize. In a sense, saying I can’t do something because of biology (or society) can be an excuse for not trying, an easy way out of a hard situation. There is also a tendency to compare my abilities and potential to others and assume roles… for example, my brother is the artistic one, which means I’m not artistic.In a family of six kids we all kind of had unofficial roles and passions to help us stand out as individuals.
The areas of my life where I have used genetics as an excuse is varied.
- I’ll never be comfortable with an open relationship because I’m naturally jealous or monogamous (I certainly overcame this one)
- I’m naturally “stocky” and I will never have six-pack abs (Working on this now, I wanna get sexy for all the ladies and gents)
- I’m just not a good artist
- I’m not creative a person and creativity is something you’re born with (I actually don’t think that is true, I’m beginning to see creativity as a muscle to be exercised instead of a genetic trait like eye color)
- I’m terrible with foreign languages and will never be fluent in one
- I’m not musically talented and can’t sing or play an instrument
- I’m not a good dancer
- I’m not good at helping people who are mourning
- I’m not a funny person
I am certainly never going to be the most talented person in any of those areas, but that doesn’t mean I should neglect them outright if they are areas that I truly want to grow in. Instead of using genetics as an excuse I need to be more honest with myself, and that means my weakness in those (and many other) areas generally falls into two categories: improving in them is very difficult or I’m not really interested in improving in those areas.
Roles, identities, and the things I love and hate (or are good or bad at) can provide me with direction and purpose in life, but I shouldn’t mistake them for who I actually am. I am someone who does economic analysis, but I am more than just an economist. I am someone who isn’t good at art, but I am more than just a bad artist. I am a person who enjoys being outside, but I am more than just an outdoorsman.
When I accept something as beyond my control and wrap my identity up in it, I abandon opportunities for improvement. Instead of seeing something as an area in which I can improve with hard work, I just surrender or; instead of seeing something as a subject that I genuinely don’t enjoy or have an interest in or see value in improving I act like a victim, “I would love to draw but I just don’t have the talent.”