This morning I gave big hugs and waved goodbye to my two middle children, Zack (12) and Sara (9), as they headed off for a four-day summer camp adventure.
Just a few days ago, I drove my husband, Stacey, to the airport and bid him adieu as he boarded his flight to a retreat in Mexico.
Three of the people I love most in this world are all off on their independent adventures into the unknown, which gives me a bit of time to reflect on what self growth and development mean.
First of all, I’m extremely proud of all three of these people. Zack and Sara have never slept away from home, not even on a sleepover with friends or family.
When I first mentioned this camping trip to them, they were unsure and felt nervous at the mere thought of it. I didn’t push the idea, but explained why I thought it was beneficial; time away from tech devices, camping in unadulterated nature, cooking all their meals over an open flame, and, most importantly, trying something new, albeit a little bit scary.
They took a couple days to think it over and each of them let me know in their own way that they wanted to give it a go. Zack said he did need some time away from his computer and would try this new experience. Sara is always so brave and was really ready for a new adventure.
When I first met Stacey, he didn’t go east of the 405! Now, he’s traveling to Mexico for self-development retreats on his own. And to think there’s an adage: “An old dog can’t learn new tricks.” That type of restrictive thinking seems so small and outdated these days as we enter into the age of neuroplasticity and heart expansion.
All of this begs me to contemplate deeply about our journeys through life as humans. There is no age limit on learning, growing, or developing . We are in a constant process of being and becoming and I think more and more people are waking up to this reality: it’s never too late to grow up.
What does “grow up” even mean aside from physically growing into a bigger person? For me, it implies evolving into the person you want to be. And that process of evolving is something that is never done because, like I said before, we are always being and becoming. Who we are can be fluid and flexible, learning and adapting as we move through life’s different experiences.
There is the delicate balance of finding happiness and appreciation for wherever you are at any given moment in life, while also knowing that there is always something more to strive for, another mountain to climb.
But change is not easy. Humans are habitual creatures and we even get attached to our not-so-helpful habits. Curiously enough, sometimes when we’re unhappy, even miserable, there’s a part of us that is comfortable in that state because it’s what we’re used to and it’s what we know. This is the great conundrum: moving ourselves out of our comfort zone, knowing that we’ll have to go through the discomfort of being in the unknown in order to reach our greater goal of finding peace and happiness within our own self.
This is why it is such a big deal that my kids and husband decided to take the leap and be outside of their respective familiar spaces. And that’s not just physical space, but mental and emotional as well!
So as we “grow up” it becomes evident that we also outgrow...people, places, things, ways of being, personality traits.
It’s obvious when we see a kid in pants that are way too short, that he needs a new pair. He has outgrown his old pants. However, it’s not quite as obvious when we as adults outgrow our old ways. How do we know if it’s time to “buy some pants”?
Let your mood be your indicator. Tune into your own happiness meter and see if you’re just living on autopilot or really living. If you are in a constant or nearly constant state of discomfort, I’d say that’s a good sign that you have outgrown the old and are ready to step into something new.
In conclusion, I’d like to say: don’t sell yourself short on life or yourself. Take the risk. Do the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way--like butterflies in your tummy. Nervously excited. Even if you think you can’t do it, try. It can be any number of small or big things. I, for example, tried a new yoga pose today (fallen angel) that is extremely hard and I got nowhere near accomplishing the pose, but I sure did try! And one day I will do it, with grace and beauty to boot. Remember, it’s never too late to grow up.