Change or Growth?

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations." 

— Anais Nin

        As most of my friends and family know (and unendingly tease me about), I am constantly changing.  So I started to think about the reasons why… why do I crave change? Why do I need to challenge myself?  And is it really change as much as growth?  And moreover, what is personal growth?  We grow as children.  Our bodies develop, we go through puberty, we get taller, we age.  So when we become adults do we stop growing?  I sincerely hope not!  Sometimes adults are in more need of growth than children because children see things with fresh and unclouded eyes.  As adults, we can get too complacent, too stuck in our ways and forget the bigger picture.  And maybe what we perceive as our comfort zone could be adjusted just a bit, given a new perspective.  So maybe change is really just growth.

        I have stepped outside my comfort zone quite a bit in the last ten years. My direction, however, has always been guided by my desire to impact the world in a meaningful and durable way.  After 9/11, I made a choice to go back to school, to change gears, to study law.  What did I learn?  A new way to think… a new way to write… to search for answers when sometimes it seems that there are none.  But I found myself unsettled still and my need to do something on a greater scale drove me further outside my comfort zone.  I joined several medical mission trips to Africa and Haiti.  Again, what did I learn?  For this answer, I refer to my last two blogs.  I learned more about myself in the last three years than I think I learned in the first 38.  Each one of these seemingly momentous decisions has led me in a different direction and readjusted my focus.  Yet, each decision, each step has built off of the previous.  So instead of calling it change, I think that I will call it growth.  I am ready for another period of growth and have decided to readjust again.  In the fall I will be starting an accelerated International MBA program.  To do this, I have to master a second language so I am also studying French.  Talk about a challenge!

        I am privileged to have the opportunity to continue my studies.  I am lucky that I have the support of my family and friends to be able to continue my education.  I have had a few people ask me why I want to do this… what will I gain?  Will I use the degree?  Well, of course I hope to use the degree.  But why should the endpoint be the measuring stick for learning?  Is learning for the sake of learning a bad thing?  I would argue that it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.

        Perhaps the most important realization that an individual can make in their quest for personal growth is that there is no single formula that defines the path to personal success. We all have different goals and priorities, which means that different activities and attitudes will make us feel good about ourselves. Personal growth is a process that produces personal change and progress. And personal change and progress should include personal growth.  They are not exclusive and in many cases are the same.  And it starts from within you.  For me, personal growth means always learning.  I am not afraid of change… in fact, I welcome it.  Change and growth… growth and change.  These are what allow me to live life to the fullest.  They help me become a better person, a better humanitarian, a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and sibling.  And at the core, they allow me to feel fulfilled. 

        Winston Churchill once said, “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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