Growth and Power
Edited by Miriam Zeghlache
I remember reading in school when I was young: “Matter takes space”, a concept that forms a fundamental for the way our world is built, how matter behaves and exists. But on a human and personal level, the concept of taking up space became clear to me only recently, when I was growing out of my older versions, and stepping into a fuller me.
Just like other people, I grew older trying to fit into the world, hiding parts of myself, seeking approval and validation from the world, and diminishing my real self. My growth began when I realised that I wanted things to be different, that there is no way this is what life must be about.
The following passages come from personal experience, and at times, I point out special moments when one realises they are growing out of something, into something better, instances to look out for when we are “growing.”
I realised that growing older doesn't necessarily mean growing up. To grow up, I needed to face everything I had buried away, and in many aspects, that meant surrendering, and being the real version of me, undiminishing myself, showing parts of myself that were locked away in my memories.
Growing out of our parents’ shadows
It is commonly believed that we tend to carry unfinished dreams, burdens or memories from our ancestors, and often develop similar patterns of choice or living as our immediate ancestors, the closest being our parents.
A part of our parents always lives in us. Many times we see it as similar patterns of life, circumstances, often bad-luck in many cases, or similar taste in food or clothing. In fact, many even tend to repeat similar patterns of choice when it comes to choosing a life-partner. Growth begins when as an adult, we begin to realise that we will always have that part of our ancestors living within us, and we allow it to do its part, be aware of our tendencies, but still make more informed and independent decisions.
When we as adults look at our ancestors, including our parents, with no judgement, we can finally begin to understand that our life is not about them, or their unfinished desires or burdens. Yes, we do have a tendency to act similarly to them, or even end up in similar circumstances, but growth is about understanding the importance of what we are here to do in this moment, without trying to be someone we aren’t. We deserve to make our own choices, and even mistakes, because in this moment, right now, the power to choose and act is ours. We can repeat everything that has happened, or live a life like that of our ancestors, or we can realise that this is our time, we can choose differently, and we can break the pattern.
When we realise the privilege to be here, we see the importance of making our own way in the world, succeeding or failing in our own ways. Thus, growth happens. We finally see that this story is ours, and it reflects in the light we see our parents in. When growth happens, we begin to relate to our parents as people, who may have made their own unique mistakes; we realise that we don’t have to fix them, we only have to understand them.
When we start to evolve, it reflects in almost every aspect of our life, especially in our friendships, because unlike other relations we form in our lives, friendships are usually the most forgiving and most volatile, with minimum promises and burdens. We outgrow friends in every phase of our life, from schools to higher education, and most of all, we lose friendships to time.
But another way in which I have seen people lose friends is when they are evolving, and in my opinion, that’s indeed for the best. I used to have many friends when I was a child in school, but when I began to realise that those were nothing but my attempts to seek validation from people, I realised maybe I need to step back. From the twenty people I used to call my friends about three years back, I am left with probably two or three, and the most surprising part is that these are the people I never expected to remain friends with, but today, I share some unique bonds with them.
Growth happens when we realise what kind of bonds we have made, and when we are ready and willing to lose them in the name of our wellbeing.
When I realised that I wanted healthier friendships, many people decided to suddenly stop calling me, or meeting me, but I was okay with that. I knew that they wanted to be friends with the version of me that I had already discarded, so what remained was a happier version of me, more content with what life brought my way, less anxious to make friends or seek validation, and more at peace. Growth usually feels like hell, but ends with peace, and somewhere between making many attempts to meet or call people that I called friends, and staying home on a weekend night in my own company, watching Harry Potter in bed, I think I grew up.
Growth and love
The way we love and desire to be loved says a lot about us, and the way we see ourselves. I have always been a hopeless romantic, believing in fairytales, and looking for that intense love that is capable of huge passion. Blame it on the stories we end up reading and believing, or the movies and the fictional characters that steal our hearts, but love has many types; growth happens when we choose the form of love that sustains us, rather than the ones that destroy us. Throughout life, we are expected to fight for love, beg for it, so we end up accepting any form of it.
“We accept the love we think we deserve”
Stephen Chbosky, author of The perks of being a Wallflower.
After reading multiple self-help books, and re-reading Eat Pray Love multiple times, I believe I started to realise the kind of love I had, and also the kind of love that I still craved. Depending on one’s journey in self-growth, we cross paths with many types of potential partners, and even soul-mates. But growth begins to manifest when we see what we have, realise what we want, and be willing to give up on ideas and opinions on love we have grown up believing, if they are not in alignment with our highest good.
Today you may decide to break up, give up, stay single or try to explore different forms of partnerships that may fulfil your soul’s deepest desires of receiving love, or even end up having a pet to take care of. Anything that helps heal the broken, bruised and chaffed heart is eventually a step towards receiving love, but growth happens when we understand that there is no love out there that can fulfil us the way we ought to, no love can replace the love we give ourselves. It happens when we begin to feel whole in our own company, doing what we love, enjoying ourselves, going out on a date with ourselves, smiling at ourselves in the mirror, and maybe bursting into a song or a random dance at home. When it comes to love and partnerships, I believe the power is already within us, we only have to be willing to share it with people who respect us, not chase it or a version of it in others.
Growing into me
Healing my relationship with myself has been one of the most important things I have done in my life. Today, I understand myself better; I know what makes me happy, what makes me sad, and I know the difference between what I like and what is good for me, be it people, career paths, or even food.
Everyone faces challenging times in their life, when we are forced to change our ways, and grow out of a comfortable phase. Growth begins by challenging our ideas, thoughts, and patterns we fall for. Small choices, from eating healthy, or making time for self-care, or breaking free from toxic relationships are stepping stones to a truer version of us. Self-growth, and the way we relate with ourselves is probably the most challenging, because it requires us to burn our old self down and build a new and honest version of ourselves, more open, more vulnerable. It requires us to undiminish ourselves, to offer our real selves to the world, but in spite of being difficult, this process is the most rewarding. It allows our heart and mind to align, it brings us peace, it compels us to see our beauty.
After taking time to work on the relationship I share with myself, I can see myself in a clear light, listen to my heart’s feeble desires, use my mind efficiently, and make space for my dreams, new people, new relationships. The world hasn’t changed, but I have. I have fallen in love with my character, childish whims, my love for ice-cream, my curly hair, and my freckles.
“I have travelled through madness to find me”
Growth is never easy, it comes with pain and heartbreak, but it is essential. The whole process of growth is about understanding oneself better, stepping into an evolved version, then preparing oneself to share it with the world. This begins with understanding what parts of us are we hiding, and why. The process of growth is about showing our real self to the world, along with the parts we hid, it is about undiminishing ourselves, because no one else can be us, right now, here in this world. There is a “you” and a “me” shaped hole in the Universe, and our true power lies in filling it.