A few years ago, I was playing a game a friend was developing. As part of the setup he asked me to tell him something I believed as a child but now knew not to be true. My answer? Girls don’t fart.
When I was at summer camp one year, a camp counselor gave me that glorious and confusing bit of knowledge. He sounded serious and I was young, with no sisters. Naturally, this entered my personal Canon of Life’s Facts. Over the next few years, I’d get into arguments with my friends that went something like “I don’t care if you have 10 sisters! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Yes, I could be a little jerk. I don’t think that misconception was actually cleared up until high school. It’s not that I actively believed it, but I had no reason to think about it. That was just the way it was. Girls certainly didn’t fart around me.
I’m married with three kids, two of which are beautiful(and gassy!) little girls. A belief doesn’t get more shattered than this one.
Now, some 25 years later, I find myself occasionally running into other beliefs that I’ve seemingly always had, but have no reason to keep. These are–or were–part of my personal Canon. Once accepted, even if they were only accepted implicitly, they have been unexamined and unquestioned. It’s just the way it is.
For many years, I thought debt was normal. Everybody had payments. Everybody used credit cards. Everybody lived beyond their means. Right? No. The reality is that it’s not everybody, and the people who are living beyond their means are living a broken system. Normal is spending actual money for things you can actually afford. Normal is not paying for the use of someone else’s money. Everything else is dysfunctional.
Another Canonical Misconception was that money could take care of itself. I didn’t know anybody with a budget. The closest anybody came was the “balance available” line on an ATM receipt. Couple this with an unquestioning acceptance of debt, and it’s no wonder how I ended buried under my credit cards. Having a budget is important. Knowing where your money has gone and where it is supposed to go is important. Without this, you’ll never be in control of your finances.
I’ve often thought that you get what you pay for. Assuming that more money somehow causes something to be of better quality or utility is dangerously expensive. There is a level that means something is so cheap it can’t possibly be worthwhile, but there is a huge spectrum of quality above the garbage price point. There is also a line above which no manufacturing can improve the cost and you are paying strictly for the brand or the ego boost. In today’s world, with stores and manufactures all around the world just a click away, it’s easier than ever to find a good deal for a good price.
These are just a few of the ideas I’ve held without question until they were shattered suddenly. Now, I try to examine my beliefs and make sure they still make sense in the face of my current knowledge and experience.
What Canonical Misconceptions have you overcome?
This post is a blast from the past. It ran a couple of years ago and I think it’s worth reviving.
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