One of the less well-known, uncommonly used definitions of the word “affection” is actually the one that I think makes the most sense.  If you’re a grammar nerd (much nicer than saying grammar nazi…), you’re aware of the difference between “effect” and “affect”. Most people have a hard time with this commonly confused pair of words, but pretty much all you need to keep in mind is that “affect” is a verb, something you do, and “effect” is a noun, it’s something left over.

The definition of “affection” is simply: the act of affecting someone.

Now, keep that in mind as I change gears a little.

If you’ve ever spent any time on the internet, then you’ve probably seen or played this game.

life

If you haven’t, I’ll explain it briefly.

This game has a lot of different names because there are a lot of different versions by a lot of different companies.

The premise of the game is that you start with only the circles of colors and a block of grey squares. You’re supposed to link the two circles of the same color by creating a line of color between the two, connecting all of the circles and using all of the squares.

Pretty simple, as long as you keep one thing in mind. No single line can be created if it prevents another dot from connecting with it’s partner.

Think about that just a little bit. The circles exist together, yet totally independent of each other. They all have individual goals that are both the same and different from the other individuals around them. The game isn’t considered a success unless ALL circles reach their goals.

However, let’s look at this game from an individual’s point of view. In fact, let’s look at a common view of life by individuals.

From the very beginning, children are pressured socially to have a dream job already thought up of. One of the most common things I was asked by principals, teachers, or school counselors was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” To be honest, I don’t even remember what I answered most of the time. I didn’t know what I wanted to be and I didn’t know why I needed to know, so I would answer with a profession that I’d heard other kids say before. For a long time after I got into the higher grades, I said I wanted to be a writer, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I didn’t really want to do it for a living. Writing is actually really hard and I didn’t ever have the dedication to succeed much with it. I’ve always had it as a sort of backup plan, however. While I was casting my net around, trying to find something I wanted to do,  I would always think, in the back of my mind, “Hey, if nothing falls into place by the time I’m an adult, then I could always do something with my writing.”

Maybe writing will still take some place in my professional life, now that I’m actually and adult, but who knows?

Anyway, by the time you’re ready to start high school, the adults in charge of such things have already got you planning for college. They ask you what you’re going to be and then they have you make a plan of all the classes you need to take to graduate high school and start to gather experience in the field you want. Everything is centered around what your goals are, even thought there isn’t a single kid that I knew in high school that stuck with their original plan. Not even me and I stuck with my plan until only a month or so before I graduated.

As adults, every part of your life is steered toward your goals. The jobs you take, the education you get, even when/if you get married and if/when you have children depends on what you want to do with your life. I’m not sure if other ladies get this or not, but there is even pressure on women to make their career choices carefully so as not to be influenced incorrectly by men on our paths to becoming successful people. I’ve heard women complaining that their plans for a career were ruined because their male counterpart put his needs before hers.

What about co-workers? If you watch television at all (especially crime-drama shows), you’ll constantly see someone doing something underhanded or dishonest to put him or herself ahead of everyone else. Something that may ruin someone else’s chance to achieve their goals.

But what if we were those colored dots? You may want to take the shortest or most direct path so that you can connect with your goal, but the most direct path might not be the right path. The path you need to take may be long and round-about in order for it to fit nicely in place with your comrades goals.

What I’m trying to say is that not everyone has the same goals as you are and aren’t going to be taking the same path to reach those goals, but it is vital that you are aware of those goals and be willing to make little sacrifices so that you don’t cut someone’s journey short. What other people are trying to achieve may not seem all that important to you, but remember that it is of the utmost importance to them. It’s giving them a reason to get up every morning. Some day you may be faced with an opportunity that brings you closer to your goal, but you have to be careful that it isn’t putting someone else in a difficult or impossible situation.

General success and happiness don’t depend on how quickly YOU get to your goal, it depends on you not to mess it up for the other people trying to gain the same success that you want. Be considerate to those people and make sure you affect them positively.

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