What Growth Feels Like

Not great.

In elementary school science, they showed those time lapse movies of flowers blooming and butterflies’ heroic emergence from their cocoons, usually set to triumphant, soaring music.

My growth has never felt like that.

My growth starts with raw, painful discomfort. I’ve done something that’s put me out of my depth - made a big ask, stuck my neck out in a relationship, bungled in front of people I wanted to impress. My confidence is shot through and weak; I’m indecisive, uncertain, unsettled. Appetite gone, can’t sleep well, if at all.

It’s unmoored, vulnerable. And I have yet to hear triumphant, soaring music.

But the thing about those movies is that they speed up time. And time - which can seem to move with cruel slowness when we’re wounded - is as essential to growth as oxygen is to breath.

All the unease of growth is proof we reached beyond ourselves. We stretched out towards our full wingspan.

Best I can tell, that sounds less like triumphant horns and trumpets and more like ripping and tearing from who we know ourselves to be to who we have it in us to be.

We are well served to be soft and careful with ourselves. The velocity of modern life doesn’t cross over to the growth process. That proceeds on its own clock, until gradually, perspective - perspective we could only get by fumbling barefoot, empty-handed, open-hearted through the discomfort - sets in. Wisdom, too.

So we begin to eat our toast again. We begin to sleep more soundly again. And we begin to walk with the elongated back of someone who’s wings are broader than before.

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