This post originally appeared on June 4, 2015.
When we are babies, kids, and teenagers, it’s expected that when we grow it hurts. As babies, we are cranky when we are teething, learning how to do something new, and moving through milestones. When we get older, we call it ‘growing pains,’ we call it puberty. When we go through these growth spurts, we require different things: more sleep, eat more or less, feel differently (sometime cranky), and even want to do different things (be more active, rest more, spend time with people, spend time alone, etc).
When we get to adulthood, we are supposed to keep growing, bettering ourselves, yet not have the growing pains. We are expected to have it all figured out, to move through changes without hiccup, without interruption, without sharing the growth space we experience. We put on a smile, go to school pick up, arrive at work, and maybe share a little bit with close friends or family, however, for the most part, we keep going and sometimes even question ourselves asking: what is wrong with me, no one else is having a challenging time?
The result: we grow in silence. We labor alone, in the quiet, in front of the TV, in the dark, in the refrigerator. We don’t recognize these spaces in life as growth periods anymore – we label them as wrong. We invalidate them. We feel uncomfortable in our space and instead of rejoicing at our amazing abilities growing, we cringe, we cower, we hide, we pacify, and we feel guilt/shame. Somehow between receiving validation as a child for growing and changing, we turn it into invalidation as adults for doing the same thing.
Next time you are feeling a little off, feeling a little unsettled, feeling like things are a little harder than usual, might I offer you a simple phrase(s) or mantra: “I am becoming more capable, I am becoming more certain in my abilities. I am growing!” And next time, rather than feeling uncertain, find a way to validate this growth, validate the changing you. Remember when you were a teenager and experienced the pangs of adolescence, while it wasn’t always fun, it led to opportunities and amazing experiences on the other side. You are growing and changing. You are emerging into an even better version of you.
Sometimes shedding those layers hurts. Celebrate the growth. Validate the experience. You might even find some shared experiences with those around you.
As we do.