When I was younger and always thought about what it would be like to grow up the idea of it all seemed very simple. You finish school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, and get older. But as I started reaching my teen years I discovered how much more complex everything was. Throughout those teen years, I managed to get through life, school, sports, whatever. As I was entering High School I realized I had let myself kind of bland out, and blend in. I wasn’t expressing the person I really wanted to be. From there on I decided to pay closer attention to who I was, what I was feeling, and how I really interpreted the world around me. I grew up, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
I read things. I had never been much of a reader before, and I hadn’t ever taken the effort to find any interest in anything specific. So I started there, and I found a book of meaningful poetry. With Rupi Kaur’s first compilation of poetry Milk And Honey in hand, I discovered artful pieces of writing and simple illustrations about her difficult life struggles and how she overcame them. I was inspired and decided that maybe I did like to read if the reading addressed some important aspects of real life.
I did research. I was young and ignorant and knew that I somehow needed to change that. I paid attention to social issues and international topics and I gained a lot of knowledge by going out of my way to learn about things that I hadn’t paid any attention to before. I was able to take a stand and argue effectively, defending my positions and why I felt the way I felt about multiple major world problems.
I listened. I started taking the time to listen to others and their ideas. I listened because I learned that I could gain multiple perspectives and piece together my own thoughts. After listening to others I learned to listen to myself and the thoughts and ideas of my own creation. Suddenly making conversation with people became easier than ever.
I reached out. I talked to new people, and I paid attention to the things going on in their lives. Through talking to others I realized that no matter how singled out life can make you feel, you’re never really alone. I found friends that needed to talk about their problems and would listen to mine. I was able to share my experiences with others that were in the same situations, and I built myself a small community of supporters.
I ventured. Whether I was scrolling around Pinterest, loading up the kayak, or tying up my boots for a hike, I got out there and found hobbies that I enjoyed. I learned to free myself, to take a break, to have some fun. I let loose and made every day its own little adventure.
I became more mindful. By doing all the things I mentioned prior, I learned to live in the moment and appreciate all that I could. I took nothing for granted. I let myself feel emotions in every moment of experience. I felt the pain and mourning in myself and all the students and staff when our classmate passed away. I felt the joy and accomplishment and pride during our graduation ceremony. I felt the nervousness and excitement while moving into my college dorm. I feel the love shared every time I visit home and reunite with my family and friends. I learned to take it all in and appreciate life as it was happening right before my very own eyes.
I became more caring and passionate. By listening to others and paying attention to everything going on around me, I learned to care about others and how they felt and reacted. I talked to others kindly and I found a passion for helping to solve everyday crises.
I became more positive. By venturing out and being mindful, I learned to love every minute of my life. I developed the ability to always look on the bright side. I felt the downs but I also looked forward to the ups. I learned that even though life can be rough, I can always find happiness.
I grew to love myself and the person I continue to grow into every day. I’m still young and I still have a lot to learn and experience. But I’ve grown myself enough to know that personal growth is important. I plan to do all that is in my power to continue growing my mind and body day by day. No, I’m definitely not perfect, and I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I know that if I continue to expand my horizons I’ll get there someday. And that is the growth I look forward to most of all.