Week 14 of PBP: G is for Growth. Yes this is late. Last week was super busy with family drama related to my grandpa’s illness and Easter. Then, the depression got me. In order to attempt to self-medicate, I spent a lot of time distracting myself with friends and trying to just “do stuff.” That only sort of worked. Finally, my last excuse is I really didn’t know what to write about for the second G. After spending time with my family I’ve decided a way to vent AND tackle a PBP post so I don’t feel like such a slacker.
Family parties with my family, aside from the fact that I am of age to get sloshed, often leave me depressed and angry. Nothing seems more frustrating and debilitating as an adult than teenage angst. When you’re a teen (I must be old to have perspective enough to see this) your tastes and opinions change rapidly. Only those who spend a great amount of time with you can keep up. For me and most of my high school friends, those people were our friends. My family was busy, and while that hurts, I think it’s common. It’s hard for grown folks to give their children who don’t necessarily even seem to want them around that much attention. In my experience as the top end of Gen Y I think a lot of my peers’ parents did a better job. I can’t help be jealous of their loving and supportive parental relationships – and I can’t help be frustrated when they can’t understand why I’d rather DIE than have my parents come with me to their BBQ.
See the problem with my parents, with my entire family on all sides is, they can’t be present. They stopped being present a long time ago. Living in the moment, being present, simply living is just not a skill they have. For them, I am not almost 30 – sometimes I don’t even exist. Family parties and even dinners with my parents are a litany of what happened before I was born, how things used to be, and what I supposedly like and dislike. The problem is, I don’t have the same likes and dislikes I did at five and really I think I’m a perfectly fine person now. This weekend alone I was told that they know best: when I tried to answer a question about how the agricultural markets work and why government intervention is necessary, people talked over me. My dad spent the entire weekend saying how much I love things I don’t – like white sauce on pasta (really dislike unless I make it myself). I’m tired of hearing about the ’70s and how cheap gas was: no matter how many times I go over Peak Oil, it won’t matter because no one cares. They don’t WANT to be here. My parents are the worst because it’s like this all the time. I get it, people, old people especially, like to remember to when they were happier. Things were easier, whatever. My cousins and I are just there as props, finding ways to amuse ourselves – we are required to be somewhere as a punishment for being grown up and not cute anymore. Except, for my family I’m more required than my cousins are: they don’t get yelled at for being a shitty person when they leave early to live their lives with their friends. I do. When I leave an event early or simply choose not to attend I will never hear the end of it: I am the worst person in the world, hands down. You know what? Eventually hearing this long enough you’ll get used to it. I’m not guilty anymore either because I’d rather be somewhere that’s good for me. Somewhere I enjoy it. Somewhere I exist. It’d be nice to spend time with my parents and families as an adult but that isn’t going to happen. They don’t want to – and while I know that they are the ones missing out it still hurts.
Growth when we’re younger is also easy. It happens naturally: we get bigger, taller, stronger, and we learn new things. As adults, growth is a choice. We can strive to keep growing spiritually and mentally or we can choose to stagnant. To get lost in the past. To hold fast to our memories and ignore the changes around us. We can choose to see what is in front of us, build a life, prepare for the future, and make the best choices we can for what we want now or we can choose to hold on to the past and make choices based on past desires, past events, and past circumstances. Growth requires we be present. Growth requires living in the moment, to appreciate it, and let it slip by. Accepting that impermanence of everything is the first step to growth. Second, comes the art of living in the moment and simply being present.
Obviously, I didn’t grow up being taught to live in the moment. I grew up being locked in the past. As an adult, I had to learn to be present. For me, yoga was the most helpful practice in learning to live in the moment and be present. It took years but I finally learned to just be there and experience things. I also learned that shaking is a good thing: pain means you’re doing it right. Everything is only for “a few more breaths.” It will go away, it does pass. Even though I have depression and I sometimes feel like it won’t end and it will NEVER be better I remember everything is impermanent. Once I learned this skill I admit it, I went a little crazy. I tried to squeeze as many experiences out of life as possible. I don’t regret this, I just realize between the ages of 19 and 25 I crammed a lifetime of “doing stuff” into a few years. I still try new things to just have new experiences but overall, I think I’m more sane about it. I’m grateful to have had those experiences and I owe a lot to my partners in crime for being good people. Growth doesn’t have to be a crazy thing, you can temper your growth with wisdom. I think it’s important to temper your growth but realize you will make mistakes to get that perspective.
There is a danger in making the choice not to grow. The consequence of saying “no” to growth is being stuck in situations – even if they feel comfortable they may not be happy or good for you. People who choose not to grow don’t make good decisions. They become incapable of interacting with the world around them. Walking around in your bubble gets lonely. Growth isn’t easy, it’s painful messy and full of “shaking.” You will never be quite limber or flexible enough because if you were, it wouldn’t be growth. The trick is simply getting good at being uncomfortable. I promise, everything will be just fine.