Some Days, We Grow

Life would be so much simpler if everything were perfect and easy, right? Well, maybe. Is that what we want, though? Assuming for a moment that this were possible, is it desirable? And if we assume for a moment it is desirable, how do we think about growth?

Often, I’ve found, we grow most when it hurts most. When it pushes us most. I have long adhered to the ideal of stretching every day. Reaching out of the known. Stepping out of my comfort zone. And, there’s growth there. Yet, in my experience, it is with the heavier lifts that the truly transformational growth tends to occur. And, many times, so much is out of our control.

There is much intentionality and agency in choosing to stretch every day. And, it is also true that life will throw things at us. Present us with situations and circumstances that require us to stretch and grow. There is intentionality and agency, yes, but it is in the response to those situations and circumstances. Not so much the choice to experience them in the first place.

And they’re things you’d probably never choose. Unexpected challenge. Things not going as you’d hoped. Disappointment. Fear. Loss. Pain. We think of these as negatives. And they feel that way. Perhaps, in fact, they are negatives. But they can also be the gateways to what else is possible. And who else is possible. Who you are on the other side of those gateways is often transformed. The butterfly emerging from the chrysalis.

I’ve long wished this was not the case. Wished the caterpillar could move immediately to its glorious, colorful, winged future self without enduring the messy middle. But, alas, this is where the magic happens.

As with all of nature, there are seasons in life. Some days (weeks, months, years…) are the days we do the growing. Tilling the soil. Sowing the seeds. Determined roots pushing up against hard, barren land. Fighting against limits and circumstance to grow.

And, there are the other days too. The ones where we reap the fruits of this growth. We can almost forget the tiny roots’ fight against the elements. All of the perseverance and resilience required, the miracles that needed to perfectly coincide, to make possible the abundance we now enjoy. Yet, they were a critical part of the journey. I’d posit, perhaps the most important part. For, without them, we would not be where we are today.

So, sure, there are days when growth is less front and center. And, sure, those days are enjoyable – and should be enjoyed wholeheartedly. But, I try to remind myself not to simply yearn for those days. To, instead, embrace the times of struggle. Lean in and be present, however difficult, knowing they are shaping my path. Meet them with acceptance. And curiosity to see how I will evolve. Who I will become.

Whatever the coming year brings, how will you meet it?

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