We can view our personalities and who we are as something stable, stagnant, and never changing. However, if that's the case, we aren't growing. Personal growth is like the once favorite dress, that used to fit perfectly, but no longer does, and this happens while we're sitting there, emotionally naked, seeking a new way to self present and identify. It can be hard to let go, but you must. If you're going through a transition right now, maybe you can relate to what you're about to read.
Outgrowing the Dress
It was that time nearly a decade ago, when I had last excavated my true self from some yucky situations, and come out on the other side, feeling refreshed, invigorated, and truly, authentically myself. I could often be found smiling for no reason, aside from being alive, striving for things I wanted and appreciating the experiences, opportunities and people I had in my life. There was an unshakeable sense of peace, because of those experiences that had once shaken me to my core, leaving me to scavenge the pieces, rebuild, and start over. I appreciate it most in rosy retrospect, with the understanding of how easy things were because of how easy I was on myself. A failure wasn’t debilitating, a rejection wasn’t an indicator of what I was worth. That is, until, that start turned over, found myself rustled by change, feeling like I couldn't keep up, having outgrown the self I had so meticulously crafted and maintained, to become myself, a new self, once again.
It's like the perfect style of dress that you come to wear, always get complimented on, and unabashedly feel confident in. It seems instantaneous, this shift. But more likely it has been gradually outgrown. It’s not that you’re becoming better or worse, bigger or smaller, I tell myself; you’re taking on a different shape entirely.
Discard, repurpose or redefine the dress?
It can happen the moment that you reach your goals and discover they’re not what you wanted. The day goes by, resembling many of those prior to it from an external view, with the insider knowledge that it’s not like the other days. How real is this self if it feels so violently shaken by events outside of your realm of control?
Was it denial, grit or open mindedness that kept you in diligent pursuit with those goals, those people, or those feelings that no longer fit? No matter what it was, it no longer is, and you’re back at square one. Starting over, again. It’s time to decide how many of the lessons to internalize and external things like relationships and skills to take with you as you have no choice but to move onward.
Naked and in-between
You’re still packing your heart’s bags, as your body moves into different spaces in hopes of finding a new place of belonging. There’s a melancholy mixture of missing what was, and hoping that things turn out alright. You try to remember that period of transition you experienced another transition ago. It's as fuzzy as an old television with a dial to change the station; dull and outdated.
You realize that every period of change isn’t going to be the same, and you need to get comfortable with this fact of discomfort. Is discomfort necessarily a "bad" thing? Is facing it head on, accepting the changes and the self that's building upon new experiences a diss to your past, or a compliment?
Is this whirlwind of questioning your life's core mission a sign that you have been living your life all wrong? Is this the sign that you can salvage it, that you’re awake enough to know that you’ve sprouted branches where there were once little sprouts?
It's this in-between stage of inquiry, where the dress is obviously outgrown and worn, discarded with some hesitation, and the period of nakedness has been entered.
It's a bit cold, vulnerable, and uncertain. The labels that once identified you to yourself and others are shifting, shifting, gone. It's time for you to choose new ones. But there's something sort of freeing about this time. Your skin, once tingling with anxious anticipation of what's to come from these changes, acclimates to the spurts of wind, and lack of structure. It's as though each new experience begins to color your view, with eyes wide open and a heart that's beating and being heard rather than muffled. It's funny, just when you think you're finally fine, and the nakedness of labels and self-definition are worthy of being embraced, that's when, during your shopping experience, you may stumble upon the perfect dress (for now).
Choosing a New Dress
The expansiveness of growing hurts, but perhaps those branches are meant to be acknowledged, nurtured, and in time become strong enough to support others who may feel the same shade of restlessness that you now feel, too afraid to move. Perhaps the parts of us that are beginning to sprout, and the parts of us that are dressed-up and ready to say "hello" to the world are all a part of a broader spectrum of stops and starts, where the only constant is our breath, heart and desire to make sense and meaning of ourselves.
Just because your new self is uncharted and unknown, doesn't mean that one day you won't come to know it as your best version yet. If you're transforming, don't fight it, don't be afraid, allow yourself to gain strength from the uncomfortable process that will soon pass, turn over, and begin again. What are some outdated ways of being you're currently living? What are some minor changes you can make to be in line with what you value personally, professionally and creatively? You've got this.