Growth can occur unexpectedly and it doesn’t take a monumental, life changing, event to learn something new about yourself. Rather, it can come from subtle things we do everyday that may either water or dry out the roots meant for our growth. Or, in some cases, growth can still occur like a rose growing from the concrete. As a single 24 year old Black woman going through the unexpected motions of life, here are 5 places I found growth to occur—you just might too:
1. Remember, Growth Doesn’t Look Like a Checklist
Of course we all should take the timeout to plan our goals and treat our growth like a checklist, but there is a 99% chance things will not happen the way you want them to. For example, when I was planning on going back to school, it was important for me to figure out what school I wanted to go to, the degree, and how I was going to afford it. However, keeping two-three open spaces in between each task I planned out, I allowed room for the unexpected blessings to flourish.
As long as you can mentally prepare yourself for the outliers, you will be less likely to panic when things don’t go as planned and more likely to learn something along the way. Most importantly, you will realize the end goal is not to reach perfection, but to sustain an environment, almost like a greenhouse, that attracts and promotes continued growth in your life. And that may be part of the bigger plan that you have yet to foresee. So while you plan, plan with the underlying knowledge that life does not end or begin with a checklist. You will always be moving through unplanned territory, no matter how well you thought you had it all figured out.
2. Challenge Every Decision You Make with Practicality
As a social science major, I always found that the theoretical approach of problem solving to be very rewarding. However, as I have grown out of the college phase and into the real world, I quickly realized that the theoretical way may not always be the best approach when it comes to financial, career, relationship, and investment decisions. As a result, to break this theoretical mindset I have grown to love, I challenge every decision I make with practicality. I assess the tangible pros and cons of making the decision and the short and long term implications it may have on my life. Whether writing it down or saying it out loud, I do not solely base any decision on theoretical ideas alone.
Practicality is the filter we need to make sure our growth is the healthiest type of growth, as it can extract the weeds before they become too wild. By doing this work, it alleviates unwanted strains in our lives for the future. Unfortunately, practicality may not always lead to the decision we want to make, but we know we must for the safety and health of ourselves in the long run.
3. Take Control of Your Thoughts
The moment I took steps to manage how I think, is the moment I was freed from myself. I often found myself being more self-blaming than usual, especially when it came to my work performance and education. But soon, I started to check myself every time one of those thoughts popped up and literally asked, “Really, do you think this thought is necessary sis?” This simple interjection may seem small, but it made a big impact on allowing me to disconnect my truth from my flawed thoughts. They were not the same and I was in control—not the other way around.
How we think is a beautiful thing, but it can be a dangerous thing too. Continue to slowly dissect the thought processes surrounding the situation you find SO terrible until you reach the core of the problem. Sometimes it can be due to our insecurities, anxiety-driven thoughts, and or just pure misunderstanding. When we are able to source out our thoughts and remove ourselves from them, the truth begins to peek through so that we can address it.
4. Accept that Growth is Not Always a Private Matter
What led to more promotions and healthy relationships in my life is when I began to speak up, ask questions, and not be afraid to give my feedback whether it was right or wrong. I became comfortable with being uncomfortable and letting people see and hear me processing my growth WHILE it was happening. Most importantly, I started taking accountability when I did not know something I should have. Although I’d say, “I am not sure” pretty often, best believe I took the rest of the day, week, month or however long it would take to learn it, so that I had the answer next time.
When you grow in private, the only person that you are hurting is yourself. People can’t see your roots that are desperately calling for nourishment. Be bold and call out areas where you see improvements in yourself or places that need some work. Doing so will give you the freedom to ask the more uncomfortable questions, show people that you are willing to learn, seek clarity, and that you have endless potential for growth.
5. Relinquish Your Individualistic Mindset
Prior to the pandemic, I worked tirelessly to fill in every bit of my time with either school or work. Neglecting family time and every other aspect of my life that did not have a direct revenue attached to it. For obvious reasons, my lifestyle changed completely and I began to ask myself questions like:
Was that really worth the sacrifice?
Who am I trying to beat?
Why am I constantly choosing violence?
Yes, like most of us, we want to be the best and make that money. Oftentimes, that is the result of having an individualistic mindset adapted from our parents, culture, and other socialization agents. What these socialization agents failed to teach us is that individualism may make us stronger, but strength comes in numbers—winning every time. I believe once we are able to understand that living for ourselves is not always the wisest long-term choice to make, we will begin to treat friends, family, careers, and financial decisions differently. I am not saying to stop hustling, but choose wisely the type of growth that is best for you.
How are you nourishing your own growth? Leave a reflection in the comments below!
Thessiana Shama Mesilus merges the art of storytelling and psychology throughout her content. She founded Shama Works that serves as a creative platform to help individuals lead, grow, and heal from within or wherever there is a story to be heard.