Growing Pains

“I always knew that “Growing Pains” was not going to go on forever. I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to enjoy every minute of this.’ ” ~Joanna Kerns

You’ve probably had a bad haircut and waited for what seemed an eternity for it to grow out or maybe you had a growth spurt that left your legs aching as you grew into your body. Growing is not always easy. Opportunities for growth are all around us — we grow to be more qualified in our work and we grow to be, hopefully, better people through sometimes painful experiences that seem to last longer than we’d like. Joanna Kerns’ show, “Growing Pains,” didn’t last forever, nor will our own growing pains. Can we, as she did, enjoy every minute? Can we trust that something good will come from our discomfort?

It has been a few years since I awakened to find a large spot of hair missing from my head. After more than a year spent bemoaning the loss, I came to rejoice when I could finally see sprouts of any color bursting forth — maybe not bursting, but at least poking through, as if looking for daylight. The hair is now probably three inches long and the new growth that I am so thankful to have has created difficulties in styling. I find myself thinking how glad I will be when it blends in a little better. Looking forward to that day, I wonder just how am I supposed to be enjoying this?

It won’t last forever. The pain of growth is temporary. In my case, I can be grateful that my hair is growing instead of frustrated at its lack of cooperation. What is your situation? Are you in a new job trying to learn new skills? If only we could know everything we needed to know going into a job, but it rarely works that way. Look at where you are and enjoy each new thing you learn — in fact, make a note of it. While keeping a journal is regularly suggested as a way to track changes in our lives, in this case, it can serve as a way to see the progress you are making.

Making progress means you are moving forward, even if you make some mistakes along the way, even if you have some painful moments. I think about jobs I’ve had, and jobs I’m considering, and the fear of not doing well enough that seems to go with me. What if I don’t have all of the answers? What if I realize that with all of my knowledge, I don’t know how to do a particular part of the job? It might be embarrassing to admit I’m lacking, but it is in my limitations that I can begin to grow into the person they need. What about you?

Mandy Hale wrote, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” I imagine for a seed that never germinates, it might feel as if it is stuck somewhere it doesn’t belong. People need to germinate, too. If a seed just sits on the ground and is never given the cover of soil, a little water, and warmth from the sun, it won’t begin to grow, and it will be stuck where it doesn’t really belong. I don’t want that for me, and I don’t want that for you.

Whether you are dealing with your own growth or helping a child or friend, begin with making a note of where you are and where you want to be, with a plan for how to grow. Learning to speak a new language, play an instrument, or be a better cook all require growth — some of which will be as painful for others as for the one growing. Enjoy the process — the pain will be behind you before you know it.

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