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23 October, 2008

Personal growth

I've been thinking about personal growth this week. What are we all doing to help us grow(and growing outwards from the waistline doesn't count as growing)? This kinda ties in with my thoughts about growing up. I said that growing up was about gathering responsibilities and dealing with them and I still stick to that. But there are other ways we can encourage personal growth that I overlooked.

I had a discussion with a friend a couple of days ago about the impact of going to college. She had moved out of her home town to go to undergrad and was thankful for the experience. It wasn't just the learning and continuing education that helped her grow up, but she was in a new community, a new location. She didn't know anyone or anything around her and so had to begin to fend for herself. It included an increase in responsibility such as cooking, cleaning, and paying the bills for the first time but it was also more. The whole was greater than the sum of it's parts. You enter a new system in which you can try a new approach to social interaction. You can attempt to be more extroverted or introverted, kinder, more light hearted and so on as you are able to define a new "you". You have the choice to stay as you are and perhaps you will be sculpted by the new people around you. It's a time that you make friends for the first time probably since you were around 6 and just knowing you still have this skill gives you confidence and makes you examine what else you could achieve. The friends you gain aren't simply people who you had to sit next to in school but they are people you choose to spend more time with and learn about.

I had a friend who dropped out of school around age 17 and he went off to work. It was a good fit for him. He started earning money. A heck of a lot more than I was earning as a broke student and he was pretty generous with it which was nice when he came to visit me at uni. I was always pleased to see him but he was a symbol of the old "me". He only talked about old memories from when we were at school together but I had moved and grown away from that. I had new stories, friends, ideas, ideals and interests. I was interested in the present and the future rather than discussing events from the past. He carried on working and still lives at home with his parents today and I wonder if I could take him back in time would he see his old self from 5 years ago fail to see any differences?

I'm not discounting working full-time though. It had an impact on me and made me realise a few things about what I like and dislike in a work place and how important and complicated office politics and the office culture can be. It also taught me a lot about some of the people who didn't go to university. I just feel like I grew a lot more completely out of my comfort zone at uni.

The point to all this? I guess I'm encouraging inner reflection. How have you changed in the past few years? What encouraged that change? Why did? Who was involved? Are you still changing and growing today and in what ways? The conversation I mentioned with my friend earlier is an example of something that I think I try to do regularly to change. Just a small thing like asking another their view of the world and their experiences can help re-frame your own life and help guide you in your own personal growth.

1 comment:

RedZeppelin said...

Sadly the only personal growth I've had in the last 10 years is something that had to be removed under local anesthesia.

I've read a ton of self-help books, had a lot of deep discussions with friends, and in the end none of it has made a difference. Despite trying to change the way I view life and therefore change my attitude and outlook, in the end I always go back to the old me.

As a wise man once said, "I am what I am and that's all that I am."