"Would you rather be a child or an adult all your life?" This was the playful question I was asked the other day. When it came back into my mind later that night, though, what I realized as I reflected on it is this: growth is our natural state.
From the time we are young, we are continually learning and growing. Learning to crawl, then to walk, learning to use a fork or a cup, how to dress ourselves, how to read and write. We accept and welcome these learning experiences, always eager to grow. As we reach adulthood, though, something changes.
When we become adults, we often lose touch with that intrinsic desire for growth. We settle into our comfort zones, and growth becomes something we ignore and avoid. But often, there is a lingering, nagging feeling deep inside, something that says, "This is not all there is for me, is there?" or "I'm meant for more." Or maybe, "I'm not living up to my full potential."
So what happened? For me, I found that when I began internalizing who I thought I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to have based on societal norms, I stopped growing. I thought if I found stability and security in my work and personal life, that meant I could "stop". That I was done and it was smooth sailing from there.
The reality was that as comforting as those things were, they were also confining. I was not growing, and was immensely dissatisfied and unhappy. Although I didn't recognize it at the time, it was not until my life changed completely that I realized how essential growth really is. Without growth, we cannot give the world the gift of ourselves and all of our amazing potential. We are basically living half-lives, scared of growth because growth means change. And change is hard and scary.
As I get older, what occurs to me often is, What will I have to look back on? Will I be proud of the chances I took, even when I failed? Or will I look back with regret, knowing I never truly fulfilled my reason for being? Will I have wasted my life and my talents because I was afraid to grow?
Though that may sound sad or morbid, it actually inspires me. I know the answers to those questions, and I don't want to near the end of my life with a lifetime of regret. I will keep taking the chances and making the changes, so that I'm continually moving forward and growing. Whatever that looks like for me in the end, at least I know I can be proud and satisfied with the effort.
Strive to keep going and keep growing, so you can do the same.