Understanding Growth in Retrospect by Round Trip Travel

Understanding Personal Growth in Retrospect

Nobody likes a long, stuffy car ride.  Or a five-hour layover in the Denver airport because your dad had to return the rental car before noon so as not to be charged for another day (sorry, Dad, but I’m forever bitter).  In these moments, you may be stir crazy, frustrated and ready to just arrive already.  And the second you hop out of the car or step off the plane, the not-so-enjoyable journey fades to black in a blink.  It’s not hard to agree with this, but when this concept applies to pain and growth, it’s all too easy to have tunnel vision.  We all know growth is necessary for life whether it’s physically or emotionally.  But honestly, growth sucks.  It hurts and isn’t all pink bubblegum and soft kitties.  I’ve often heard the example that growth is like giving a vaccine to a baby: it hurts in the moment, but it’s necessary for optimal health.  While I agree with this illustration, I’d like to take it a step further to separate growth into two categories: personal choice and beyond yourself.

Processed with VSCO with x1 presetAny time a person mentions the words “root” and “canal,” it’s inevitable that there will be a subsequent UGHHH IM SO SORRY HOW ARE YOU STILL ALIVE.  I’ve been *fortunate enough* to have this painful surgery, and no, it wasn’t my favorite experience in life.  But without this surgery, my broken tooth would’ve caused me a lifetime of pain, and I only would’ve been able to eat on the right side of my mouth.  It wasn’t entirely convenient to have a mint rubber sheet and lots of metal tools in my mouth for an hour, but this pain was undoubtedly necessary for me to heal and move on with my life.  I chose this temporary pain for myself (even though I didn’t want to), but it was fully beneficial.  And now I often forget I even had the surgery and that I have a piece of porcelain in my mouth.  So many things in life like a tough job interview or college course may be uncomfortable in the moment, but they pay off in the end.  The deadline or recovery time is in sight which makes the journey a bit more comfortable.  It’s important to challenge ourselves so as to grow as an individual.

london-eye-london-england-uk-round-trip-travelBut other events in life don’t always leave us with renewed health and happiness.  Conquering a time-consuming project or challenging yourself with a new recipe, workout class or hike often strengthen your abilities and grow your confidence, but sometimes pain leaves scars—and big ones.  And it’s completely beyond you.  Believe me: I wouldn’t have chosen anxiety as my biggest struggle in life.  It’s the single most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with in life and has caused more pain than anything I’ve experienced.  I wish I could’ve been more carefree and happy.   After years of telling myself that I need to just stop it and that I was being ridiculous, I finally reached out for help.  Through this, I’ve developed the strength to identify underlying causes and chosen to move forward confidently.  These months following my diagnosis have been the happiest, most fulfilling in my entire life, and it has entirely nothing to do with my circumstances.  This year has seen immense change, moving away from home, many new responsibilities, a new social scene and unforeseen deep hurt.  Yet I’ve seen so much personal growth.  Realizing and owning the fact that yes, I have anxiety have allowed me to understand that it’s okay good to say no and that I am responsible for advocating for myself.  I’m beginning to understand grace and that some things are not humanly possible.  At the end of the day, anxiety has left me with more scars than I care to share, but the lessons and values I’ve developed from this experience have radically changed my life and my ability to live it abundantly.  And it all began with my trip to Los Angeles.  Pain caused by other people or unforeseeable circumstances is beyond your control, but choose to grow from these experiences.

Goff Island Laguna Beach Los Angeles Ocean California.jpgAnd some pain can’t be categorized into either of these two; it’s a mix of many things.  And I think this third category of “uncategorized” is the most difficult to sift through because you’re right—it can’t be put into a box.  And you’re left confused, wondering what you could’ve done differently, how you could’ve avoided this, who you could’ve talked to, what you could’ve said.  And the list goes on until you completely throw in the towel and curl up in a ball.  I’ve been there.  No amount of journaling, showering or crying can erase the pain.  You know this is supposed to make you better and stronger.  But it just, well, sucks.  Maybe this was unavoidable, but was it actually?  Did I bring this upon myself?  Are my scars legitimate and valid?  Curiosity may have killed the cat, but don’t let it kill you.  There may be no tangible end in sight to pain or an ETA for growth, but choose to focus on what you do know.  Yes, he was wrong to treat me that way.  And what she said was rude.  He may never apologize for the hurt he brought upon me, and those memories may never completely disappear.  I may never understand his thoughts, and the what happened may never make sense.  But no, this pain does not define me, and scars do fade.  As a wise friend recently told me, it’s good to grieve; heck, it’s natural.  These stages of grief may not go in order or last different amounts of time; you may loop around them many times.  But as time goes on, they fade.  And they will fade.

You’ve heard the cheesy quote that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”  But sometimes I wonder if this person ever felt hurt, angry or frustrated in her entire life.  Because seriously, life hurts sometimes.  The journey is definitely important and makes us who we are today, but if you lack vision and the big picture, your journey is just going to be a round-about: pointless and never-ending.  Your journey may include pain, but your ultimate destination is growth.  Know that you will arrive eventually.

In Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, the authors write, “Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered.  It mattered.  You mattered.  That’s not the way life was supposed to go.  There are unwept tears down in there… Let the tears come.”  This struck such a chord with me.  It’s okay to be sad; it’s good.  Grieving is good.

lake-of-the-ozarks-missouri-sunset-round-trip-travelAt the end of the day, growth is hard and not always fun.  But don’t hold yourself to unattainable standards.  Go grande, buy a cake pop, listen to some chill music (s/o to Coldplay) and share your heartache with those who care about you most.  Buy that necklace you’ve been eyeing for months.  Take a bubble bath because it did wonders for Chandler in Season 8 of FRIENDS.  Growth is incredibly difficult, and the worst part is that it’s not usually visible or tangible.  But don’t let that be an excuse to ignore the growing pains.  When it comes to travel, we know the uncomfortable journey won’t last forever and that the destination will dull the pain and restlessness.  View your life as an adventure so you can indulge in all the growth and blessings awaiting you.  So, chin up, darling—you may be bruised and broken, but you haven’t reached your destination yet.



{How do you seek out encouragement when you feel pain?}

5 thoughts on “Understanding Personal Growth in Retrospect

  1. myhearinglossstory says:

    Hi Kristen. I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! I love reading your blog…Here is the link https://myhearinglossstory.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/nomination-for-one-lovely-blog-awardthank-you/?preview=true Take care. Carly


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