Hi there, Celebrationists!
Hope your week is already off to an excellent start.
1.) I am grateful for knowledgable, caring, and thoughtful friends – old and new, who are a better support system than I could ever deserve.
2.) I am grateful to have a couple days of weather that isn’t either rainy and bleak or 95 degrees and oppressive.
3.) I am grateful for a particular new friend who always makes sure I’m kept in coffee, rides, laundry abilities, and a ready listening ear. So grateful.
Today I want to talk about growth. And to share this, by Elizabeth Gilbert – because she’s simply the best, and I’m making it my mantra for the week:
Growth seems to be one of those things that is really hard to track, in ourselves. There are so many areas of my life in which I feel constantly behind. Moments where I think “I should be so much further along than this…” Maybe you’ve felt it, too. Perhaps this sensation manifests in terms of where you are at in your…
- Romantic relationship
- Living situation
- Financial life
- Ability to set boundaries/assert yourself
- Way of negotiating friendships
- Clarity of purpose
- Life trajectory
- A million other possibilities…
I feel like the phrase “getting ahead” is a very American one. But I wonder what, or who we are trying to get ahead of? When will we ever feel like we are growing enough? What’s the benchmark? What’s fast enough? We already know that perfection doesn’t exist. And that if it did, my idea might look very different from yours.
Every now and again I’ll have an absolute moment of delight when I’ll think, “Wow. I could never have done that a year ago.” And then I’ll speed back inside my head to a time where I was a less-empowered me, and realize, “Huh. I guess I am coming along more than I thought I was.” But sadly those interjections don’t seem to come nearly as frequently as the self-critical assurance that I am somehow “behind.”
To that point, this quote by Anais Nin brings me a ton of peace –
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
For me, there’s so much comfort in the thought that parts of myself can be developing at a high rate, others might not be, and it’s all ok. And that the “there,” is relative, anyway. And that a year from now…or day from now, everything will be different. I’ll be different. And that maybe not a whole lot of good is accomplished by me judging what I perceive to be my own growth, or lack thereof.
It does seem like a great way to encourage growth in ourselves is to open up fully to the possibility of new experiences. Each time we engage in the act of meeting new people, traveling to new places, taking new classes…whatever it is, we are inviting the almost inevitable possibility of growth. I really enjoy the idea that growth is available to us in every moment, as per this quote by one of my favorite authors in the world, Jen Sincero. I’ve mentioned her book at in at LEAST 5 posts, but if you are a new blog reader, PLEASE do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of You Are a Badass. Seriously. Do it. It’s the best book I’ve ever read.
“All life is either moving forward and evolving or shrinking back and dying. If you want to evolve in your own life, you have to push through the obstacles instead of running from them. Obstacles and challenges are the agents of growth. Nobody gets to be large and in charge without facing challenges and moving through them. Birth is messy, painful, scary, uncertain, and freaky. Birth is also a glorious miracle that leads to new life. If you want the new life you say you want, you have to do the work instead of just studying and discussing and wishing and wanting.”
When we are in the midst of struggle – and we all experience them, it’s hard to see how the challenging or miserable times are working on us, but they always are. It’s not a ton of fun to think about the fact that embracing difficulty can make us richer people, but I definitely think it’s true. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens says, “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” Preach, Mr. Dickens. Preach. These kinds of struggles fall under what I’d consider “Adult Growing Pains.” Life events like break ups, moving, falling out with friends, dealing with illness, loss, rejection of all kinds…while they are happening we merely think of them as suffering (or maybe something with a few choice descriptors beforehand) – but in the end they are powerful agents of personal growth. The hard times aren’t totally for nothing.
So as I move into this week thinking about the concept of growth, I want to be conscious of these ideas, if you care to join me:
1. I will do my best NOT to judge where I am at. My growth is unique, and it doesn’t serve me (or the people around me) to criticize it, or compare my journey with anyone else’s.
2. I will dare to be vulnerable in the face of new experiences.
3. I will not run from struggle or hide from challenges, knowing that they are powerful tools in my evolution as a human on this planet.
4. I will remind myself that there is beauty in the most mature and evolved parts of myself, and the most childish parts of myself, alike : )
Be good to yourselves this week, Celebrationists! Where you are at RIGHT NOW is exactly where you are meant to be : )