Growing up can be a difficult and challenging experience. Moving through the awkward stages of life is something no one does perfectly, and none of us come out on the other side as grown ups without a couple of scars.
There are countless beautiful things about growing up, too.
Achieving new goals, meeting your best friend, finding your talents and hobbies, and learning more about yourself are some of the wonderful things that can happen when you’re young, and it can be so exciting, new, and fascinating.
We all have a subconscious list of rules and lessons that we’ve learned along our life’s journey. Whether these rules and lessons are helpful or harmful, we all live by them, and it is important to bring them to light so that we can better understand ourselves and how we came to be the unique individuals we are today. Growing up is equal parts learning to give others grace and learning to give grace to yourself as well.
Amidst all the turmoil and triumphs in this life, there are multiple things that I have learned along the way that perhaps many of you have as well. Below I want to share some of the most important lessons I have learned so far. Which lessons resonate with you?
1. Self-care can save your emotional health.
I used to burn the candle at both ends in high school. I was not content if there weren’t plans mapped out for each day of my week by Sunday evening. If I had an hour of free time, I would spend it working on my next goal. This level of exhaustion led me to become completely burnt out, and my emotional and physical health took a toll. It wasn’t until I sought out counseling and learned to practice self-care that I got my sense of self back. Now, I prioritize self-care in the same way I used to prioritize achievement. I am a happier, brighter person now because of it, and I am so grateful for this lesson I’ve learned.
2. Using charitable thinking is not a weakness.
We have all encountered people in our lives who are naturally confrontational. Being confrontational can be an advantage at times, but when used inappropriately it can hurt people. As a kid, I used to believe that if I did not stand up to an argumentative person, they would continue to walk all over me. Over time, I have learned that it is often better to practice charitable thinking than to fight fire with fire. Charitable thinking is the practice of interpreting a person’s behavior in the best way possible - essentially, to give someone “the benefit of the doubt”. It is not a weakness to assume the best about a person. In fact, when kindness is extended to even the most hardened heart, it can often soften them up.
3. Sensitivity is a gift.
I have always been a more sensitive person. As a child, I was taught by teachers that it is important to have thick skin. The phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” was taught to me as the impenetrable defense to a bully’s teases. However, as I got older, I learned that words really hurt, and they are often more powerful than actions. I learned to cherish the power of words and use them for good - I even got a degree in writing to learn how to use them to inspire and encourage. My sensitivity allows me to empathize with others and build them up with my words. That is an undeniable strength.
4. Family is an irreplaceable source of support.
My family means everything to me, but I know family can be complicated for so many people. I have learned that “family” is not defined by biology. We can choose our family, whether its the family we were born into or a group of loving people who have taken us in as one of their own. Having people who will support you no matter what and will love you through the good and the bad is vital to living a healthy life. No one is an island - we all require help and encouragement.
5. Comfortability does not always signify that a decision is right.
I enjoy staying in my comfort zone, as most of us probably do. I have always been more timid and introverted since I was little, and while I don’t agree that timidity is a negative attribute, I do think it makes it very difficult for a person to grow at times. Instead of living on the sidelines, I have learned that it is good for me to step out of my comfort zone into the action of life. The background is no place for a person to stay forever. We all have a story to be a part of, and it is important to take leaps of faith every so often in order to become a better, stronger person.
6. It is perfectly okay to say, “I don’t know.”
I tend to be very logical, which causes me to want answers to all my questions. Even as a kid I would research topics until I felt I fully understood them! I am still learning that it is okay to live in the gray of life. Not everything is black and white, and it is always better to say, “I don’t know,” than to choose a side without being informed.
7. Generosity extends far beyond an interaction between two individuals.
As a child, my aunt Becky was my role model. She extended endless amounts of kindness and generosity to me, and it warmed my heart. Acts of generosity are healing for the giver and the receiver. When generosity is given, it opens up a place in each person’s heart to give and receive more generosity, which leads to a chain reaction of generosity as each person goes throughout their life. If you can allow generosity from others to inspire you to act generously, you will positively impact others and you will grow as a person from it.
These are just some of the lessons I’ve learned as I’ve grown up. Have you learned any similar lessons? Use this post to inspire you to think about how far you’ve come in your life from your childhood. Think back to some of your favorite memories, and maybe look through some old photos and home movies for inspiration. What lessons are important to you?