The question is so common since our repatriation that we’ve joked about creating business cards summarizing our answers in an easy-to-read bulleted format. It’s the ice breaker du jour—a convenient, six-word sentence uttered by virtually everyone familiar with our recent two-year hiatus from U.S. residency. It’s a crowd-pleasing, comfortable, mildly depressing party question that evokes a fair bit of stammering, questionable statements, and creative explanations on our part. It’s a question you shouldn’t ask lightly—because you might just get an answer that surprises, or delights, or possibly sets one off balance in a way that leaves you wondering why you asked in the first place.
Newish President Trump has got me considering the idea of introspection—the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes. Despite the never ending parade of self-help gurus all touting it’s benefits, surprisingly few people are introspective. Those opposed to self-examination still rise through the ranks, lead people, and even become President of the United States, yet remain ignorant of their shortcomings. Rather than toil in self-awareness, they plow through life pushing aside others with blissful disregard. But what if they’re right? What if we don’t need introspection?
It seems spring is the time of year people publish articles and blogs about all the things they wish they’d known or did, or wish you to know or do. My email is the unwilling recipient of a tidal wave of titles from twenty and thirty-somethings touting 9 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About My 30s, Things I Wish I Knew at 25, and 25 Things You Must Know By The Time You Turn 30. Sites like Medium and Bloglovin rain thoughtful, provocative, timeless pearls of wisdom past my spam filter, filling the folder titled, “Emails from the Ninth Circle of Hell,” where a rule designed to keep them out of my inbox reroutes them until the highlighted unread-email indicator becomes sufficiently annoying as to require action.