When I was 6, I had this super cool pair of hip hugger flared jeans. The legs were so wide my feet completely disappeared underneath like they were hiding under a tent. A white belt with a big buckle accentuated the hip hugger part – despite that fact that at age 6, I didn’t really have hips yet, accessorized those epic jeans. I had a matching red, white and blue shirt that completed the look (it was the 70’s – red, white and blue ANYTHING was totally groovy). I have pictures of me standing on the top of a staircase in this model like pose, hands on hips and a “I’ve got this” expression playing across my face. I was SO in love with that outfit. But as was typical, during the summer I had a major growth spurt – and those cherished items no longer fit. I was devastated. I tried to keep wearing them – despite the fact that they began to look more like flood pants, and the waist was uncomfortably tight. I finally had to admit, I had outgrown something that I loved.
As I reflect more, it strikes me that there are deeper, more profound things I’ve loved that I have also outgrown over the years. Bigger things like certain habits, jobs, relationships, even some of my ‘go to’ emotional reactions. As an example, when I was first married (over two decades ago now) I had this standard emotional response every single time my husband and I had a fight. I’d slam a door. I mean REALLY slam it. If I didn’t get the right sound on the first try, I’d open it and slam it again! I’d hear my husband’s muffled voice on the other side, “Oh great. Now we’re going to slam the doors.” I also remember the exact moment I outgrew that response, because in one particular fight my extremely calm and passive husband slammed the door first. Just to see what I’d do I suppose. Well, it struck me as absolutely hilarious, and in that moment I realized the response no longer gave me any kind of emotional payoff, so I quit.
As I further explored this idea of outgrowing things, I landed on a fascinating realization regarding many of my old relationships as well. Like most of us, I’d naturally and appropriately outgrown a lot of friendships over the years too. Life circumstances usually dictated these adjustments; new schools, new activities, or maybe it was a new job. However, once in a while it was also because a relationship that once was helpful and positive became stifling and constricting, no longer beneficial. I’ve always really loved people in general, I enjoy meeting others, and I make friends easily. However I’ve never seemed to be able to move past relationships that no longer fit me without feeling really sad. Later I see things so much clearer. I’m a better person for honoring myself even in times that were hard to do so.
That said not all growth is painful, and not all growth means saying goodbye forever. Sometimes its just ‘goodbye for now’. Old clothes come back into style (while I can’t wear my favored childhood jeans, I will admit to replacing them with a strikingly similar pair in my 20’s). Throughout my life’s journey, personal growth has impacted jobs, feelings and relationships in a myriad of ways. Honestly, I wouldn’t change one single thing and if this reflection has taught me anything, it would be to allow awareness to come to me during the growth times, or certainly as soon as possible, so I can reap the benefits as quickly as possible. I choose growth over stagnancy every time. What are you in the process of outgrowing today?