Scientists believe that every one of the 37 trillion cells in our body is replaced every seven years, with our bones being replaced every ten or so years. This is not including the 38 trillion or so bacteria contained within your body. I am not a scientist, but I like this as a metaphor for the incredible human capacity to change and intentionally evolve. Even though there is no evidence, I like to imagine that the new cells have different experiences than the cells they replace, which might explain our fantastic capacity to grow and intentionally evolve.
So you are born with a complicated genetic inheritance of your two parents, the blueprint for making you. After that, however, you are faced with the choice of becoming what you choose or allowing yourself to become what the world might make of you.
Expectations and Drift
Your parents have expectations. Your culture has expectations. Your peers have expectations of you, as well, and for some part of your life, these are the most pernicious, especially if you are on a different growth trajectory. Many of the expectations others have for you will be out of line with what you would choose for yourself. You must decide for yourself, even when it is necessary to disappoint other people and to act in opposition, expectations be damned.
When I was a kid playing rock-n-roll, I noticed that there was a particular variety of teenage boy who was shy and awkward who would lock themselves in their bedroom for 5 or 6 years with nothing but a stack of records and guitar. They would show up later with longish hair and the ability to shred. They became shredders.
I have seen adults enroll in an MBA program or Law School and return as a business manager or leader or lawyer. They made a decision to become something different, and in a couple years, and consistent effort, willed themselves into a different—and sometimes—better version of themselves. I don’t if there was a change at the cellular level, but I know at the level of their identity, they were different.
Fighting the Drift
All of this is to remind you of what you already know, but can sometimes forget: You can easily fall prey to the drift, letting go of your intention and letting up on the effort necessary to be more, do more, have more, and contribute more.
If you are going to avoid the drift, you are going to have to fight the currents that are working against you, the ones that pull most people in a direction that is not of their choosing.
Do good work this week, especially the work of becoming.