Consistency is overrated

Every now and then, Facebook reminds me of something I posted a few years ago. It takes me by surprise every single time. I’m not even embarrassed by those messages or pictures. I just find it extremely hard to relate to the person who posted such things.

Her priorities were different. She found different things worthy of noting and pointing out. She’d get upset over different things. As far as I can see, she’d get upset more often than I do. If I met her at a party, we wouldn’t probably have a lot to talk about. My past Facebook feed reads like a diary of a foreign teenage kid who lives in a different world.

I enjoy getting these reminders from time to time. They’re a proof of how much I’ve evolved. As much as I’d like to think that I was always wise and deliberate, I have an entire 10 years’ worth of Facebook timeline posts to prove me otherwise. Until I was 25, my life happened mostly on autopilot. Since I decided to take responsibility for who I am, it’s been a long, winding journey of trial and error. I’m nowhere near done yet. I don’t ever want to stop learning, growing, and changing my mind.

I am a different person than I was 5 years ago. I disagree with a lot of things I believed at that time, and I am proud of it. Yet often I observe the opposite tendency. Whenever a politician, celebrity, or CEO makes a statement that contradicts what they believed in some 10 years ago, people lose their minds. They will scan vast internet archives in search for an ancient interview where that person said otherwise, and use it as a proof they’re a liar and can’t ever be trusted. It doesn’t even matter if sensibilities and moral codes change over time. If you’re a public figure, you’d better figure out who you wanna be in a decade from now. You’re only given one shot.

What surprises me even more is how people respond to such accusations. They will hardly admit “I was wrong, here is why”. They’ll try to explain how what they did or said was taken out of context, manipulated, or fabricated by an opponent. If only people interpreted their stories and interviews correctly, it would all fit into one grand, coherent narrative that they believed in from the start.

It’s hard for me to understand this need for long-term consistency. Do people believe it’s more important to be consistent than right? Don’t they wish to learn something more about how the world works? Or do they believe they’ve reached their final stage of evolution, found all the ultimate answers, and all they have left is to preach?

I’d much rather prove myself wrong a thousand times than cling to a belief that no longer serves me. Trading consistency for growth seems like a great deal. If you don’t disagree with some of the opinions you had a few years ago, perhaps you aren’t learning as much as you could?

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