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  • Writer's pictureSam

The Only Thing You Need to Know Right Now Is You

A Brief Look at the “End of History” Illusion (Originally posted on Medium by me in 2020)

I read an article recently about a phenomenon known as the “End of History Illusion,”.

This suggests that although we are quite good at recalling memories and looking back 10 years and seeing how much we’ve changed; we’re not very good at thinking that we’re going to change much in the future, as if we’ve reached the pinnacle of our own personal development. Here’s a link to read about it yourself.


Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a participant in human society, and as such I’m inclined to have opinions on psychology. Even while studying Zoology at university, the thing I was most struck by was how much I felt I learned about human behavior (mostly in how similar we all are at the end of the day), and this “End of History Illusion” phenomenon just doesn’t quite sit right with me, mostly because I find it hard to believe that most people feel like they’ve hit their pinnacle.

When I talk to most people about the topic of self-development (I am indeed a wiz at parties), most people are quite humble in knowing that they still have a lot more growing to do, and I think that it does people a disservice to assume otherwise. Instead, I pose my own theory, one that to be fair is touched upon in the article, but here it is:

It’s not that you don’t think that you have a lot more growing to do, it’s just that your mind isn’t built to predict those changes, so you don’t think about it too much.

The future is inherently unpredictable and it, therefore, takes a lot of brainpower to try and predict what could be around the corner; brainpower that could be spent elsewhere like making sure you’re happy in the here and now. But we DO spend too long in the future, we worry about the things we don’t want to happen, all the things that could go wrong, the things we can’t control. If you suffer from anxiety, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the detrimental impact of worrying about the “what ifs?”, and if you don’t I guess it’s fair to say that there’s a reason that anxiety is considered a medical condition. On the other side of spending too long in the future, you don’t want to spend too much time fantasizing and making Pinterest lists of your dream home instead of putting in the leg work to make it happen. The reason why living in the future paralyzes us, be it in worry or fantasy, is because our brains aren’t built to live there. The future is something to ponder, but like the past, not somewhere to live. The only thing we can make changes in is the present, and right now the only thing you can be sure of is who you are and what you want right now.


I do remember feeling like I had things figured out when I was a teenager, and again when I was in my early 20’s, seeing how far I’d come and realizing how little I knew back then, and now being nearly 30 I don’t really worry either which way. My feelings about who I was and what I learned were valid when I was a teenager, valid for a young twenty-something, and valid for an old twenty-something. They were important to me at the time, and important to see me through to the next parts of my life. All that you can know for sure is what is important to you, and what you want right now. You can, and should, have a healthy understanding that who you are and what you want can all change in the future, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is the here and now as that’s what you can have an impact on.

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