Updated: Nov 2, 2021
By Nell Chidley
I have always looked at life as a series of problems that need to be solved. They're not necessarily bad problems; they might be decisions like what to wear to school that day, or the order in which I should run errands. I thought that I could go through life the way I might go through a math test: by identifying the problem, following a structured formula, and coming up with a single, correct answer before moving onto the next question. I have always found math comforting because once I find the correct solution, there is no uncertainty. There is no other answer that might be “just as correct”, or the right solution for some people and not for others. Not only that, but I can be sure that there will always be an answer, even if it takes a lot of work to find it. But this isn’t always how life works, I’ve found.
While this tendency isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’ve realized it’s important for me to keep in mind that there might not always be a right answer to everything. Sometimes there may not be an answer at all. A friend who is upset might not want someone to immediately solve all their problems; instead they may just need someone to listen. There could be several different options to choose between in a given situation, and each may be equally “correct” in its own way.
As my internship has continued and I’ve learned more about the world of emotional intelligence, I’ve also learned more about myself and the way I interact with others. I’ve realized that I am generally a very empathetic person, which causes me to become frustrated with others when they don’t exhibit the same level of empathy. I can also be a people-pleaser to a fault, and start basing my own happiness or satisfaction on that of others.
The more we all learn about emotional intelligence, the more we can begin to understand the ways in which we operate as humans. We can also learn how to use our natural strengths to our advantage. I know that while problems I come across throughout life may not be as straightforward to solve as an algebra problem, I can use my innate drive to find solutions as a tool alongside my other strengths. I also know to remind myself that there may not be an easy fix to everything. It’s okay to take a step back and be in the moment without knowing what my next move is. These lessons, along with countless others, will help me as I navigate the world of jobs, passions, relationships, and life in general. They will always be a happy reminder of the lifelong friends I’ve made here at Culture Theory.
Nell Chidley is a Junior at Brown University where she majors in Economics and Environmental Studies and competes on the swim team.