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  1. #1
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Default Recognizing and accepting your own personal limits

    This is sort of a spinoff from my "It's So Easy" thread. Someone had mentioned about college students finding what their limits were academically and I am interested in what your take on 'limits' is.


    1. How do you know when you've reached your limit?

    2. Do you find it easy or difficult to accept your own limitations?

    3. Do you think that some people just don't have the talent to achieve certain things or do you believe that people can accomplish just about anything that they put their mind to?


    #1
    I know I've reached my limit when I've given 100% of my effort on something and have practiced extensively without showing any signs of improvement. An example would be from my own computer gaming experience. I used to be an avid Minesweeper player. I read a thread about peoples' best times and how they could beat the expert level in well under 2 minutes. I was determined to do that, I played and practiced alot but even after thousands of games, I've never gotten under 2 minutes. I hit a plateau around 2.5 minutes.

    #2
    If its in an area important to me, it can be disheartening to know that some things will not be possible for me to achieve at the level I want to. Or if it is possible, the amount of time and effort it would take would just be exhausting and not worth it in the end. If I don't care as much about it, then its far easier to accept it. Once I'm aware of my limitations though, it's actually kind of freeing in a way because I don't have to waste time attempting something that just isn't going to happen. I can channel my energy on something more in line with my strengths. I still wish I didn't have so many limitations though.

    #3
    Maybe this is a poorly worded question because I don't think the two mindsets are mutually exclusive. I do believe that most people can be decent at something if they practice it hard enough. However, I do think that there needs to be some level of innate talent to be extraordinary at something. I do think eventually, everyone will hit the 'wall' regardless of what it is but depending on your talent level and genetic makeup, that 'wall' will be different for people. For example, some people may be good enough at a sport to make the varsity high school team but they would never be professional level. Others may be able to play professionally but never be hall of famer quality.

    I guess my viewpoint is closer to the former. I don't believe that anything is possible. Not everyone is going to be an olympic athlete, president of the USA, or Oscar winner no matter how hard we strive for those things. I think it can be kind of harmful psychologically to think anything is possible when it isn't.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think "doing anything" (at least for me) means being very self-aware and knowing what comes with ease and where I can shoot off like a rocket vs. what's going to stop me and back me up at every bend. I have natural talents and I have things that are just very foreign and difficult for me- I don't know why I would even try for the second group.

    I don't think this is the way with everyone. I believe that persistence is a useful tool for many people and there are many success stories where people have succeeded based on that old simple saying "try, try again."


    1. How do you know when you've reached your limit?
    Again. Very self aware. Normally I just feel very tired and I'm at a plateau and the more I fight the worse the situation becomes. If I'm placed in a situation where a lot of attention to detail is needed, (in school it was like performing very focus-oriented procedures or trying to figure out the nuances between cells on a microscope) I am absolutely screwed. The day that I watched "day surgeries" and stood on a stool hanging over these really minor body parts and expected to explain what I saw in a meeting afterwards, I went home and slept and had a headache for three hours. No one's going to put a scalpel in my hand anytime soon.

    2. Do you find it easy or difficult to accept your own limitations?
    I used to find it very difficult. There are a lot of situations in life, many many- where my downfalls are just unacceptable, and I just can't be as good at those things no matter how hard I try. I'm getting much better at realizing that I have talents that are the opposite of those limitations.
    3. Do you think that some people just don't have the talent to achieve certain things or do you believe that people can accomplish just about anything that they put their mind to?

    It goes to the above answer. Some people are wired for hard work and heavy duty persistence. Some people can out smart themselves, I believe. I think it is few. I think that most should just do what they are good at.
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  3. #3
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortnsweet View Post

    1. How do you know when you've reached your limit?
    Again. Very self aware. Normally I just feel very tired and I'm at a plateau and the more I fight the worse the situation becomes. If I'm placed in a situation where a lot of attention to detail is needed, (in school it was like performing very focus-oriented procedures or trying to figure out the nuances between cells on a microscope) I am absolutely screwed. The day that I watched "day surgeries" and stood on a stool hanging over these really minor body parts and expected to explain what I saw in a meeting afterwards, I went home and slept and had a headache for three hours. No one's going to put a scalpel in my hand anytime soon.
    I'm the same. I could never be a surgeon for this very reason. Not to mention that I couldn't psychologically handle a situation where one minor misstep could potentially harm or kill a person.

    I always found that lab work took alot out of me. As much as I enjoyed science (the theory part of it), I dreaded the lab. I never had the steady hands to not knock stuff over and having to pay attention to small visual details for extended periods of time exhausted me.
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  4. #4
    Aquaria mrcockburn's Avatar
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    Yeah, I hate accepting my limits, but I'm 21, so it's high time that I looked at myself realistically. It makes me wonder why I'm even alive if I'm doomed to mediocrity and struggle. It's painful to even feel your own existence and worse, look at yourself, when you realize you're little more than yet another gray germ on this overpopulated planet.

    I just failed an accounting test, I think.. at least I bet I did.

    Anyway, here are a few more nuggets to cheer us...down:

    1. Studies have shown that we're more realistic and more accurate about ourselves and our abilities when depressed.

    2. I read somewhere that if you haven't made an intellectual breakthrough by the age of 21, you probably never will.

    I assume this extends to any area of talent. I have a novel that I'm 75% done writing, but I probably won't do anything with it, because of:

    3. I read somewhere that people tend to be somewhat equally intelligent in all areas, contrary to popular consolation. So if I never discovered a new theorem/cure, I'm probably equally mediocre at creative writing.

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  5. #5
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Limits are weird. Sometimes it takes me awhile to ramp up to understanding through much digging for more information, other times understanding happens in a flash and other times, understanding doesn't come for years. Where understanding never comes at all, are with areas of non-interest and worse yet, straight memory work. I suspect that most people are similar.

    As an example of non-understanding, I have no interest in becoming a surgeon. The thought of intentionally cutting into someone's body just grosses me out. And yet there are elements of the human body that are interesting. So conceptual understanding is interesting and application of understanding to real world slice and dice, is vehemently rejected.

  6. #6
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    1. How do you know when you've reached your limit?

    I don't.

    2. Do you find it easy or difficult to accept your own limitations?

    Extremely difficult. I've always thought that, if push came to shove, I could overcome any obstacle.

    3. Do you think that some people just don't have the talent to achieve certain things or do you believe that people can accomplish just about anything that they put their mind to?

    I think dwelling on this question is personally harmful and socially irresponsible.

  7. #7
    Senior Member VagrantFarce's Avatar
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    I've always told myself that I could be good at anything if I made an interest. So historically my limits have mainly been determined by my attention span.

    That isnt too arrogant, is it?
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by VagrantFarce View Post
    I've always told myself that I could be good at anything if I made an interest. So historically my limits have mainly been determined by my attention span.

    That isnt too arrogant, is it?
    I don't think so. I've always thought of limits that way... plus what I am suited for style wise, what I could practically do given realistic limited resources and whether the effort was worth the pay off.

  9. #9
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrcockburn View Post

    Anyway, here are a few more nuggets to cheer us...down:

    1. Studies have shown that we're more realistic and more accurate about ourselves and our abilities when depressed.
    I read that too. I hope it's not true. When I'm depressed, I'm really down on myself, thinking I don't have much to offer and not good at many things.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrcockburn View Post
    2. I read somewhere that if you haven't made an intellectual breakthrough by the age of 21, you probably never will.
    I read that if you don't discover a new mathematical theorem by your 20's you probably never will. Not sure how this applies to other fields. Yeah, this is depressing, considering I'm in my 30's and past my prime.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrcockburn View Post
    3. I read somewhere that people tend to be somewhat equally intelligent in all areas, contrary to popular consolation. So if I never discovered a new theorem/cure, I'm probably equally mediocre at creative writing.
    This I'm not sure I agree with. I know people that are really good in math/science but lousy in English and atrocious spellers. Or vice versa. I had my IQ professionally tested and there various subscales with scores all over the map. I did well above average *overall* but there were one or two subtests that really gave me trouble. I remember really struggling with subtest where you have to put the pictures in order to tell a story. Supposedly the subtest is supposed to measure not only your sequencing ability but your social awareness as the pictures involve people typically in social situations. I kept second guessing myself and I suppose my logic on how the pictures should go was not what the test developers had in mind. I suspect having Aspergers so maybe it's that.

    On the other hand, ask me how two seemingly unrelated things are similar to each other and I could do that till the cows come home.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Pinker85's Avatar
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    1. How do you know when you've reached your limit?

    Probably one of the hardest things for me to accept is when I reach a limit. For me one of the more frustrating limits are time and energy. I'm extremely vigilant about my health due to the realizing early on what some of limits (needs) are. If I eat crap my thinking gets extremely foggy and unfocused - my mood also suffers. If I drink alcohol I spend what feels like the next month trying to get back to feeling balanced and normal. If I do drugs I can't think clearly for weeks after the fact. Literally, even taking aspirin or cough syrup can mess me up for several days after the fact. I live extremely clean (no caffeine, chocolate, refined sugars, dairy, stimulants or downers and eat a painfully healthy low-GL diet (calculated down to the last macro-nutrient calorie). I need to put in a considerable amount of energy into myself to keep everything chugging along. My limit happened recently when I was training two and a half hours a day for a triathlon on top of bicycling 15+ miles a day, taking 16 credits, and working 40 hours a week. I was probably averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I remember one night being so exhausted I was half asleep and running after work - borderline nauseous, depressed yet also giddy, and very light headed. I was also trying to fit in Kendo and working on my boat most nights. I felt really disconnected from reality and miserable. My limit is that I just can't do it all and I need a fair amount of downtime/maintenance everyday to regenerate. One of the hardest things for me is that I'm so extremely greedy. I want to do everything and be good at everything but energy/time just won't permit it.

    2. Do you find it easy or difficult to accept your own limitations?

    I still struggle with accepting my limits. Most of my life I've just consistently pushed past my limit because of this weird expectation I need to. I remember taking this girl I was dating to Kendo and she was actually pretty good at it. I asked afterward if she wanted to stick with it and she said no because she had shoulder issues. I remember on some level thinking she had copped out. I realize now that wasn't the case. I think it's hard for me because in a way my identity is wrapped up with being "the triathlete" with being "the clever kid" with being "the person that puts their 100% into everything" etc. I think I struggle with feeling good enough if I'm not these things. Something I'm working on.

    3. Do you think that some people just don't have the talent to achieve certain things or do you believe that people can accomplish just about anything that they put their mind to?

    I think that we all have limits but if you live life constantly aware of your limits or the limits other people might place on you, you'll never do anything. When I was in first grade I was diagnosed as dyslexic and developmentally behind where I should be for my age. I was fortunate to have a special education teacher that focused on helping me work with my brain as it is and how to process information in ways that made sense to me. By the time I was in 6th grade I tested across the charts in the 99th percentile. I was consistently uncoordinated in early elementary but through effort I've become a pretty good athlete. I'm also a decent juggler which I think anyone that saw me walking into doors as a kid would not believe would be possible for someone so lacking coordination and off in la la land. This is why I think a lot of people actually have no idea where their true limits are because they've been trained to view themselves through societies standard.

    I get into doubt at times. Right now, I'm trying to start a business (yeah, again another thing to burn me out as I'm still taking 16 credits) and I find this doubt/worry creep up in me. But is it really helpful for me to dwell on doubt? I've definitely never been labelled sensible or practical. As far as how I live my life I think you have to be willing to fail and you have to view your failures as opportunities for learning about yourself and growth. I think people often think in terms of their own mental and emotional limits but these I think are pretty fluid. My memory has always been atrocious so I take notes on everything (literally, EVERYTHING) because it takes me a few viewings of the same material to get it to stick. I'm pretty damn crafty at mnemonic devices and have gotten to be really good at expressing a complex concept pictorially which helps with memorization. I guess my point is I think people often underestimate how fluid their minds are. What matters is finding what works for you. I can't just rote memorize like an S-type so I've worked on finding ways that work for me. You try this angle and if it doesn't work attack from this side and you just keep on at it.

    I'm never ever going to be the best at anything. Christ there are some things I struggle to even be mediocre at. Never going to discover a cure for cancer. Never going to be the first to do anything. But when I am doing Kendo and having fun it really doesn't matter if I'm the best or the worst. Of course I always want to win though. :P Never going to be a champion sailboat racer but I really enjoy sailing and fully intend to one day sail around the world. I won't be the fastest or first to climb the mountain but I'll climb it and feel pretty damn fulfilled while doing it.

    Maybe someone spends their entire life chasing an unrealistic dream. Christ at least they have spunk and drive. Most people seem so beat down and lacking that glimmer of life. They live life like farm raised fish. Maybe the salmon struggling upstream has a thousand odds against it but at least it has fire in its belly. One of the saddest things too many people accept is that only those that are "inherently" talented at something should pursue whatever that thing is with passion. If it makes you happy - I say chase after it with all your might and to hell with limits. Be delusional. Be selfish. Be blustering. Be stubborn. Be the guy with the horrible voice obsessed with karaoke.

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