Different Kinds of Growing

Most of the time, when we talk about growing, it’s in the context of growing up (generalized, linear) and growing out of (getting to a place where things don’t fit). Here are some thoughts I’ve been bouncing around on different kinds of growing. Let me know what you think!

Growing out of is probably the easiest type of growing. Everyone’s outgrown a pair of shoes. Something that used to be comfortable doesn’t work for you anymore. In fact, it’s tight, restrictive, impossible to live with. The old shoes have to go. There’s got to be a replacement. The same thing happens to ideas. For the most part, at least the way I see it, people don’t usually outgrow bad or dangerous ideas— getting out of that space requires intentionality. Here, I’m talking about oversimplistic ideas, or childish viewpoints; basically, the kind of thing that someone might realize they don’t believe anymore, rather than ever getting a sense of changing their mind. There’s no shame in outgrowing. There’s also no reason to stay in the old idea once it doesn’t fit. The other side of this, of course, is growing into. Lots of kids show up to the first day of school in shoes a half-size too big. Most teachers also present ideas that are a half-size too big right off the bat. Living in a space that’s just a little too big is uncomfortable too. In fact, in some ways, imposter syndrome is the same thought I used to have when my shoes didn’t fit: “what if I never grow into this?” Thankfully, both intellect and compassion aren’t married to a growth timeline. There’s always room to expand. I think you can also grow into the things you love, loving them better the older you get. A good movie that you enjoyed as a kid and are in awe of as an adult would be a good example of growing into. It’s similar to what academics call a deep-dive, but the thing that’s diving is the art. You are the thing getting pierced. Because you’ve grown up, the idea or the art or the relationship can dive into you.

Growing through is probably my favorite kind of growth and also the most painful. Someone can grow through a difficult loss, or a new job, or a good story. This is the kind of growth that stays with you: you carry the old attitude and the new one. It’s about strength and understanding, but it’s not about leaving something behind. A full-grown tree and a sapling take up the same space, to a degree. The tree just takes up additional space. Growing with is about relationships: both people become stronger because they’re doing the growth in the context of the other person’s vulnerable presence.

And, of course, there is building. This is the nitty-gritty deliberate one. Building sometimes looks like deconstructing or destroying, but it’s always done with the intention and followthrough of putting something better there. This is about changing your mind. This is about changing your heart.

So, grow. In any way you can, in every way you can. Today’s not too early and it’s never too late. Go in the sun, soak up the rain, read some books, and hold someone’s hand. The journey’s already happening. Go outside and meet it.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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