The Growing Pains Manifesto

 

grow
Artist Alexandra Levasseur

 

There are so many things that I want to remember as I continue to grow into not only a more developed body, but a more developed mind, and spirit.

I want to remember the importance of growth. The opportunities that need to be taken in order to expand upon the person you are, sometimes really challenge you (and by sometimes, I mean quite frequently). A situation can be either physically, emotionally, spiritually, or any unique commotion of ways—unique as you—challenging. These challenges should not inhibit you from going through with an opportunity that can bring so much growth into your life. In fact, quite the contrary. Allow challenging situations to inspire you to make that decision. Go through with the difficulties that follow because those challenges will build you into a stronger, more capable, and more experienced version of yourself after you have conquered them.

Of course, all of this is only true if your attitude is a reflection of your positive intentions. You must devote yourself to making every moment as beautiful and meaningful as it possibly can be. Let your mistakes, your pain, your regrets, your happiest moments, and relationships be a learning experience. Let your life be a learning experience.
Change is an important ingredient in the recipe that is growth. Living your life the same way, every day, all the time, teaches you nothing about what you are really capable of. A stagnant life limits your exposure to all the infinite ways in which the world can blow your mind, make your heart feel what it has never before felt, and give you inspiration where you were maybe never expecting to come across it. Adventures are not just for the restless hearted, those wealthy enough to purchase a plane ticket to any destination, or designated for a specific kind of person. They are for any person who wishes to grow through experience, and I have yet to have found a more beautiful way to grow.

There is a reason young people make the same mistakes older people warned them about—we like to learn from experience. We like to feel things out for ourselves. An adventure also does not have to follow any specific criteria, or look the way somebody else’s do. They can be anything from telling somebody you admire how you feel, going to see a film by yourself, singing to pedestrians on the street, or even talking with somebody you have not spoken to in a while.

Although, change is not always blatantly positive. Often it comes in waves that drown you in the feeling of loss of control. Sometimes the growth you unknowingly need happens with changes in your life that bring you a great deal of pain. I think that doctors and your health teacher forgot to mention to you that the growing pains experienced during puberty are not just physical. Your growing pains are emotional aspects of life that can be confusing and hurtful. They do not end when the development of your body does. When the pain of growth is hitting you in pangs that are seemingly intolerable, think about them as the bridge to cross in order to get to the point you not only want to be, but deserve to.

Personally I never really believed that you “grew out of people”, especially the ones who you shared your entire soul with since kindergarten. To me, growing out of something seemed like the way you would describe clothing from your childhood that no longer fits your body. Or maybe you grew out of a game that was once among your favorite ways to spend time, but you just do not see in it what you once did.

This is undoubtedly my reaction when I look through the large storage bin of pink canvas in my room filled with every CD I have ever owned, I’ll often come across my Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus albums. It seemed probable that one day—depending on what would be going on at that point in my life—I would maybe outgrow them and move on to music that I would find more relatable. However I never thought that they would share the same fate with the girl who gave me them.

We grew up together, her and I. We never had a lot in common, except our love of being in each others company, and having similar negative feelings towards the way we were treated in the school I left behind me in tenth grade.
After coming back from the semester I spent studying and enriching myself through my Judaic Studies in Israel, I had never felt that I had grown so much in such a short period of time. I had never felt happier with myself for all that I had learned and all that I had accomplished during my time there. I became an even sharper thinker than I had ever been before. There was a voice within me I had always needed to stand up from who I am, where I come from, and what I believe in.

My passion for my people and delving deeper into my Jewish identity reached an all time high. Leaving the place that I know in my heart I belong was one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced in my life. Trying to answer the seemingly simple question of “How was your trip?”, gave me a frustration towards the fact that there are no words that can ever convey the feeling of inexplicable passion. Leaving for the single reason of feeling I already have a home where I felt the closest I ever felt to myself—and all that I want to grow to become—was in itself very challenging.
Within the first week of being back in America, I found out that the girl I thought would share my bed with me during sleepovers until we were old ladies, no longer wanted anything to do with me.

She would give me no reason,—let alone communicate with me at all—leaving with me eleven years of memories, a Miley Cyrus album I no longer want, and a hurting heart trying to understand the best way to move on. How do you continue to love yourself when the people you thought loved you the most can remove you from their lives as if you are as replaceable as bedroom sheets? I am still figuring out the answer. All though a big part of it is not basing your self-worth on how much you are loved by others. I remember once reading the quote: “You are what you love, not what loves you”, and feeling like my heart had just been wrapped in a blanket of comfort. It is powerful to realize that your feelings can say more about you than whatever it is that is causing them.

In I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, this is the underlying message developed throughout the novel. The book is mainly an epistolary composed of protagonist Chris’ letters to Dick, who she is infatuated with. Although Dick does not whatsoever express any interest in Chris, she continues to write him for elongated periods of time. Through her infatuation, she finds a deeper understanding of who she is as a person. By the end, we realize that it was never about Dick. It was about the ability for her to understand herself through the feelings others could evoke in her. Your relationships can be used as mechanisms to better understand yourself, and can sometimes speak louder about who you are than who they were formed with.

I never wanted to be the that person whose high school relationships lack depth, and come and go depending on the month. That was apparent in so many of the relationships around me, and it scared me. I promised to never become like that. And I never did. Although at some point, I had to come to the realization that I am only in control of myself, and that has to be enough.  Never did I want to feel as though I truly lost a friendship. There is no getting around the fact that I did loose one that I had for a very long time.

Although—something I believe I always knew but have never come to terms with until now, is that our friendship limited my ability to grow as a person, and no relationship ever should be allowed to be limiting to your personal growth. No matter how many times I boggle my mind and hurt my heart trying to ask myself what I could have done wrong, I see that they are times in life where no matter how much love you give to one person, no matter how much of who you are that was shared with them, there are people who can walk out of your life unceremoniously. Leaving you with a type of feeling that can take time in accepting you do not deserve.

I am blessed enough to have a boat load of loving people in my life who have that love for me not just because of who I am, but of who I am becoming. My relationships with these people help me to grow, and I never deserved to have otherwise. But when confronted with such, I tried my best to learn what I could.

You deserve to be surrounded by people who can whether voluntarily or involuntarily, encourage you further fostering the person you want to work towards becoming, and accept the person you are.  Even when you realize a relationship is is no longer a constructive one, you can always grow from what did come out of it. The good and/or the bad, and there is something to be said for that.

Anybody that fails in giving you a source of positivity does not deserve to hold a spot in the precious piece of art that is the life you have worked so hard at creating for yourself. Anyone who makes you feel any less than the beautiful human being you are, does not deserve your tears, your time spent mulling over what you could have done differently for their sake. They deserve no part of your energy that could be spent changing the world, and growing with it.

Channa Goldman

writer

I am a 18 year old whose art is a result of an obsession over humanity. I aspire to be a Rabbi, and live simply to fill those weird little gaps we all tend to get in our hearts, and can only be filled through something as visceral as the sharing of feelings through art.

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