Little Deaths: Pt. 2 – Growing Pains

Growing pains. We’ve all been there. Ages 11-18 were, for lack of a better word, ~weird~. But growing pains shouldn’t stop when puberty ends; if we do this life right, growing pains will last us for eternity.

That kind of sounds awful, right? Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

From a young age, we learn that change usually doesn’t feel good. When things didn’t go the way they always had, we felt uncomfortable. Parents divorce. Families move. Relatives pass away. School gets harder. Your boobs start to grow and it hurts. Relationships get more complicated. Things get more expensive. The list of changes we experience is endless. And how have we habitually learned to deal with change? We’ve learned to resist. We resist with ALL of our might. We fail ourselves by resisting the “river of change.”

I say we “fail” ourselves by resisting for many reasons. One being obvious – we change daily simply by existing; change is essential to life. So why the hell are we pushing against the nature of our existence? It’s funny when you think about it. Another not-so-obvious reason is how beautiful life becomes when we decide to lean into change. Once we lean into change, once we choose discomfort over comfort, once we take that big leap of faith into the unknown, we experience growth. We experience truly getting to know ourselves. We experience true joy because we have experienced true suffering, even on the smallest scale. We become better.

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”

Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser

I recommend cracking open Broken Open and reading the chapter Ch-Ch-Changes. Turn and face the strain baby.

Can you reflect on a time that someone challenged your opinions, or told you something you didn’t like to hear? How did you react? Did you react or did you stay quiet while your insides shut down? Did you feel your heartbeat start to quicken? Did you get angry and defensive? Did you want to cry?

These are reactions we’ve all become accustomed to when a change is lurking. I can recall hundreds of times that I’ve been incredibly resistant to change. I’ll give you a recent example that hurt like a MF:

My partner and I were having a little tizzy, the subject of it I can’t remember. He was telling me how he felt about the situation at hand and I continued to respond the way I have since I can remember – by flipping the argument to see another’s perspective. That’s naturally how I think and have always thought when trying to overcome a predicament. Libras, the worst. I said something like, “if it were me and the roles were flipped, this is how I would feel.” Then my partner said something that hurt, but still something I needed to hear. He told me that whenever we have these kinds of conversations, I always tell him what I would do in the situation if it were me. He is not me. When I do that, I make it about me and I belittle his own feelings and experience.

Ouch.

That only hurt as bad as it did because immediately when he said it, I knew it was true. I wanted to fight it by reacting and getting defensive, but instead, I chose growth (and maybe a tear or two). I chose an experience other than my own and while I did feel major discomfort in my ego, after an hour of really sitting in it, I felt good. Actually, I felt really good.

What helped me start to consistently push myself towards growth instead of resistance was making the deliberate decision to kill my ego. My ego never fails to show up, trust me, but every day I make the choice to heighten my awareness and stop living every day like my way is the only way. Over time I began to feel proud of who I am because I am always choosing to be better than I was yesterday. To choose growth is to surrender to change. Growth requires really looking at yourself and deliberately making choices that you are proud of. Growth requires having uncomfortable conversations on every scale and becoming better because of it. We go through the awkwardness of growing pains so we can fully feel how amazing it is to be human — flawed, ever-changing, and incredibly beautiful because of it.

Challenge yourself today to be better than you were yesterday. I can’t recall a time I have ever succeeded without growing through discomfort and I’m 100x happier to be where I am because of it. I believe in you; you can achieve anything you set your mind to. ✨

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
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