Scott Schimmel (00:02.078)
So we're going through this series right now called Future Mistakes. Just this idea that in my experience, nobody really wants to make mistakes about their future, but most people do. And there's this critical window between like 16, 24 years old, where young people, our kids, our students, are really forced to make these decisions about their lives that do send them on a path, trajectory, inertia. These choices about
where they go, what they do, how they act, the habits they make, all that stuff is happening during that critical window. And there are these mistakes that I've made and having now worked with this age group for the past 22, 23 years, I've seen some patterns, some pattern recognition of the mistakes that people make. So today what we're gonna dig into is a concept about desires, pursuing goals, wanting things.
And here's the deal, most of the time, the things that we want aren't really what we want, they are what other people want. Okay, we're gonna get into this. This is kind of meta. This is kind of, if you've seen the movie Inception, buckle up or go in deep into the subconscious. Now, kind of pulling back a little bit, this is really how development works in many ways. You think about babies and toddlers.
They learn by mimicry, they learn by imitating. It's not just mirroring that they need from parents and caregivers, mirroring when they cry, mirroring when they're sad, mirroring when they're upset to help them feel validated, like they're okay, like they're safe, but there's also an imitation, there's a mimicry that they do back. They copy the noises that they hear, they mimic the facial expressions that they see. And it happens developmentally over time.
And if you've ever been around middle school kids, you'll see that there's a lot of imitation happening In as much as they're trying to kind of break away break the mold Kind of carve their own path believes their own trail You've ever seen three or four middle school boys together three or four middle school girls together. I Can guarantee you they all look the same as each other So what's happening because I've always tried to catch them. I like bust them. Hey, did you know that you're dressed exactly like?
Scott Schimmel (02:26.482)
And I actually sincerely think they would not consciously be lying when they said, no, we're not. They can't help it. It's happening on a subconscious level. They're constantly adjusting what they look like and how they present themselves to the world based on what they see from the people around them. There's a fancy phrase for this. It's called memetic desire. It comes from a French philosopher amongst other things.
Rene Girard, who talked about this concept of mimetic desire. Mimetic, the word there is like miming, mimicry, imitation, same root word. And the concept is like I started off this episode with, what we want, what we desire, at kind of the first pass, the first go around, typically is informed and shaped by what other people want, what other people desire. And that is gonna be
a kind of amalgamation of what probably my parents want for me, what I perceive my peers wanting for themselves, and then the culture at large. I mean, advertisers know this. They don't sell you products. If you watch pay attention to advertisements, whether it's on Instagram, Facebook, or if you happen to watch TV with commercials, look at that. You don't just see a product, you see a person enjoying the product. You see a person's life changed.
by having that, so what advertisers know is if they just show us the product, it'll only sit on one level of our brains, but if we can perceive other persons wanting the thing that they're positioned to us, we can, we will subconsciously start wanting the same thing. I remember when Apple iPods came out, I'm dating myself here, Apple iPods. I was one of the first ones to have an Apple iPod.
that I could see. And I remember being in a Starbucks, which is cool. So back then it was like, what, you're in a Starbucks? And you carry the cup around and people see you carrying the cup. And I want, if you want Starbucks, I want Starbucks. Again, happened in the subconscious level. But I remember, if you don't remember this, back in the day, we used to have these things called earphones and they would, they have wires from the device to your ears. And before Apple, iPod, all those,
Scott Schimmel (04:51.806)
They were always black, black earphones. But when the iPod came out, they came out with these white earbuds, not earphones, earbuds. To carry and have those around in your ears, holding a Starbucks was so cool. I mean, it was like, it was, I just remember walking on a college campus being like, look at me, don't you want what I want? I want more Starbucks. I want more Apple products.
Anyways, this is also what happens for young people as it relates to their future. They are trying to figure out what they want, what they want to do, who they want to be. And in the absence of a lot of clarity, the kind of low shelf to pull from would be, well, what do other people want? This happens in high school, especially kind of high achieving high schools, competitive high schools. Junior, senior year, when you start seeing other kids wearing
college sweatshirts that they're visiting. Oh, you want to go visit Stanford, huh? Well, I don't want to miss out on that. So maybe I should want to go to Stanford. It happens in college acceptance. It happens in college major. In the absence of clarity, you will reach for what other people want and you will claim it as your own.
Looking back, that's what I did. I did not know what I wanted to do or to be. So I grabbed what I perceived other people wanting, which was success, security, stability, respectful career, a high achieving university. And those aren't bad things if they happen to be right for you. So what works, what helps in this mimetic desire?
this theory that we all, that's how it works. Well, many people continue to subconsciously pursue things that they don't really want, but they think they should want them because other people want them. And they find themselves at a place in life, I don't know if it's 40, 50, 70, at your deathbed. At some point you think I lived someone else's life. I was following a script that was handed to me. And the thing was no one made you do it, but you subconsciously did it anyways. So we don't want that. That's a mistake. That's a future mistake.
Scott Schimmel (07:13.338)
Let's prevent that. And it's not that hard. We can prevent that mistake from happening really, really deliberately. We can do a couple things. Number one, we can ask questions, a lot of questions about what do you want and why do you want it? What do you want? What kind of school do you want? Why do you want that? Even helping to ask questions to frame, well, I know I see other people wanting that, but what do you want? Helping them juxtapose their own desires compared to other people's desires.
The second thing that we can do is by sharing our own story of processing and come to clarity about what we wanted. And especially if you've got stories where you pursued something that wasn't for you, it was for somebody else. And maybe the lack of fulfillment that you experienced, the void that got you, maybe you didn't really achieve it because you were half-heartedly pursuing it in the first place. Or maybe you're still pursuing it and you want to give them a warning.
There's something about role models, anti-role models, hearing real people talk about their experiences of processing clarity for their life that really, really helps young people. So it's by sharing your own stories and asking some pointed, prompted questions that you can help somebody, a kid in your life, avoid this mistake. So no mimetic desires. We don't want that. We want people to understand what they want, why they want it, and pursue it. That will guarantee they will be more successful. They will achieve more.
And secondly, they'll feel more fulfilled when they achieve it and reach it. That's what we want, that's what kids want, so we can help them figure out what they want, not by copying others, but by coming to Clarity now. We'll be back next week with another episode of the U School Podcast. See ya.