Twentysomething Growing Pains

“There is growth across difference.”

This is a quote from somewhere. Great Michael, how profound. No, but really. It is a quote, and coincidentally enough, these words have been flashing across my mind a lot this week. When I Googled “growth across difference quote,” there were no exact matches. There were a bunch of beautiful quotes about diversity and accepting others, all from the lips of people like Maya Angelou and Ghandi. Yet, no exact matches. The quote is something I say a lot when I teach others about diversity, and because I can’t find any other matches, I’m going to attribute it to my supervisor. So, go her!! Thanks for that!

Anyway. Back to the main point.

There is growth across difference. Difference of opinions. Difference of perspective. Different people in general. There is so much to be learned from each other. There is a beauty in collaborative understanding, in sharing of different cultures and experiences, and learning more about the world around you. As Gretchen Rubin says, “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good in an atmosphere of growth.”

Growth is everything, people. There’s just one caveat. Growth is really, really hard.

(Just to reiterate: growth is REALLY HARD). And that’s okay. I guess that’s why they are called “growing pains.” Yet when I think of that term, I always thought physical pain. Literal growing pains. I remember my mother massaging my calves when I was going through a growth spurt because my muscles were having a temper tantrum of their own. But now, I’m twenty four…basically a full, independent adult. And single. Which is only kind of relevant. But when your mom isn’t there to massage your calves, I think the metaphorical equivalent of a cure for twentysomething growing pains is coming home to your person and talking through it.

This week in particular seems to be a challenging one. Training started at work, I’ve been meeting a bunch of new people in the program, and school is starting back up again the week after next. Maybe that all sounds great, but for some reason, I’m having a sense of social anxiety about it. It’s weird. But also, it’s a growth opportunity.

So, as always, here are some ideas that will maybe help with growth across difference.

  1. Feel it
    • I wanted to write “feel the feels,” but I kind of hate that expression. Although, it totally applies here. Actually, I love that expression. Feel the feels! My perspective is this: any challenging experience can also be seen as a personal growth opportunity. I’ll give you an example. Recently, there has been some tension with the parents. Mostly because I want to “run away” to Europe post-grad and “throw away my education.” Whatever. At first, I thought I was handling the situation by just ignoring it, which consequently meant ignoring them. And as soon as I felt the effects of that, all the feels came my way. And I needed that. I needed to think, reflect, and process why that tension was a point of difficulty for me.
  2. Embrace it
    • After you acknowledge the growth opportunity and allow yourself to feel it, you need to embrace the challenge in front of you. It may not be easy, but it’s a vital step. If you just ignore it, it’s not going to go away. The challenge won’t become any easier and you won’t be able to learn anything from it. With my parents, I had to embrace the fact that for once in my life, I didn’t feel supported by my parents. But after feeling that emotion, and embracing it, I was able to think about how to move forward.
  3. Learn from it
    • What’s the point of having a challenging experience if you aren’t able to learn from it? There are some times that life seems extremely difficult, but don’t let it be for nothing. Learn from it, and grow. With my parents, I needed to have a conversation with them. I learned that when talking about my post-grad plans, I might need to be a little more sensitive. My parents also challenged me to think across different perspectives, and challenged why I want to go to Europe. It was a fair question, and I’ve been thinking more about that recently, which I’d like to think is helping me grow.

And lastly, just in case you need one last reminder:

What other twentysomething experiences have presented themselves as personal growth opportunities?