It seems to be a theme lately, among myself and those around me. As summer fades into fall, the topic seems to be fitting. I even touched on it briefly in last week's blog. There's no doubt the universe is speaking to me to embrace my own season of self-growth.
We all seem to change and evolve as we age; at least we hope. I doubt many of us could look back 10, 15, or even 20 years and feel like we are even remotely the same person we were then. We may even look back and tell ourselves that there's no way we'd even want to be friends with the person we used to be. But how did we make it this far, becoming who we were called to be?
For some of us, self-growth seems to happen by chance. An opportunity falls into our lap, leading us in a different direction. For others, it happens gradually, just like time seems to fade away; we shed who we once were, adopting new belief systems, hobbies, and even friend groups. Sometimes it is a conscious choice for the sake of achieving a desired goal. For many, it happens by way of something sudden: hitting rock bottom through poor personal choices or addiction, the death of a close family member or friend, a chronic health diagnosis, the end and severing ties of a relationship. We are suddenly looking at life through a very different lens, where nothing seems the same anymore.
That is the hardest part about self-growth: looking at a life you no longer recognize or can hold on to. Nothing you've become comfortable with in life seems to suit who you want to be or the path you are taking. But the problem with comfort zones is that they cannot successfully coexist with any sort of personal growth. Without the discomfort of challenging ourselves to achieve goals and facing our fears in order to overcome, we would become stagnant in life.
One of the more inconvenient parts of self-growth as a response to tragedy is that it is our only way to heal. It's easy to get lost in the struggle; however, holding on to our pain only magnifies it. It steals all of our attention, and we obsess over it. It snowballs in size as we add pained experience on top of pained experience, never teaching ourselves a way out and forward. Instead of seeking a solution, we befriend our anguish and invite it to every occasion, robbing life of joy. We must allow suffering to be our teacher, not our owner.
However, one of the most arduous experiences I continue to encounter along my path of self-discovery and growth - one of the things I repeatedly hear from others - is the loneliness of the process. As we outgrow old ways of thinking and adopt new trains of thought, as we seek more from our experiences in life, we outgrow many of the people we have come to love and rely on along the way, which is often a sad and heartbreaking realization. Their energy doesn't seem to match yours. They don't understand or engage your desired growth. Your passions have evolved at a pace that's a clip ahead of theirs. Your goals, habits, interests, and thoughts seem devoid of inspiration when you are in their presence. You may even find them toxic for your continued advancement in life.
Simply put, you must either grow together or grow apart. Too often, the differences in our lives and experiences lend themselves to moving forward with a bank full of memories and the hope someone will come along and fill the void of the now. Someone who enjoys our newfound pursuits, who understands our struggles, and promotes our self-growth.
The good news is that, through advances in technology, we have a world at our fingertips. We often find ourselves engaging people on social media that we rarely spend time with, because their posts reach us in a way we need. You can seek out common groups and events to meet new people to not only join you along your journey of self-growth, but who also can sometimes lead the way along a new and uneasy path. Do not be scared to allow yourself to be vulnerable, for vulnerability is not your greatest weakness but your greatest ally in becoming your truest self. And when we are allowed to be who we are truly meant to be, we find peace in the process.