You see, this time last year - and definitely two years ago - I was dealing with a lot of doubt, under confidence and bouts of depression (10x more than what I work through nowadays). And through that time I felt discouraged more often than I felt like I was making progress. All I could see were the heavy cement walls of fear closing me in.
If you are human, just as I, then I believe you know this. You know this through your own views, experiences, and the journey you’ve been traveling. We are nowhere near the end, but as I wrap up this segment in my life and move on to the next, I’d like to share with you the encouragements and reassurances that I wish someone would have sat down and expressed to me while I was flailing in the deep. Just listening and reading this is not enough, though. Open your mind, uncage your heart and dig into this, my friend. Otherwise, I’m afraid my words will mean nothing to you.
This is what I’ve learned.
3 The Journey
I am a seed. The beginning of new life.
But you don’t realize this because you are nothing but that. A seed. You are just this echo of barely breathed life.
This echo of beginning life can be daunting, especially for a seedling. You look at the trees and see their branches, their roots, their cute little squirrel friends. And you want it. You want it, so by the sunlight, by the nourishment, by the soil, you reach for it!
And you flail.
Sometimes you roots aren’t deep enough, so the wind make you topple.
Sometimes you can’t find the nutrients for your creativity, so your growth plateaus.
Sometimes you meet the wrong person and end up getting chopped down into pieces that fuel their fire.
Sometimes you are born in a crack where the light doesn’t reach, so every speck of light you receive is a gift from God.
And what do you get from this constant toil and struggle? What do you get from being born so far beneath those before you that you can’t even touch the light?
You get new views.
You gain perspective.
You see, little seedling, when you start at the top, you cannot appreciate the bottom. You can’t relate to what others have gone through. You can’t relish in your own success.
Success means nothing when you don’t truly know what it takes to get there.
So why start out at the top where everything is easy and everything is twice as painful because you haven’t learned the lessons you needed in order to get you there in the first place?
That is one of growth’s favorite mottos.
You see, with this series of trial and error comes several things. The art of finetuning that comes with making adjustments. The refreshingly heavy sense of starting over. The piecing together of past projects, emotional despair and psychological miscarriages. And the most rewarding: the thrill of when it finally works together.
All of these mesh and congeal to form experience, knowledge and understanding. The beautiful balance between these are harmonized best when you go about mastering them playfully.
Let’s put it like this.
Everyone makes mistakes. But it is those who learn from their mistakes that truly grow.
I seem to be reminded of this every time I get discouraged and lack faith (and hope).
Your journey is what defines what you see.
Your journey is what defines what you experience.
Your journey will be the most painful, wonderful, authentic thing you will ever live.
And the thing that makes it so beautiful?
Your journey is exactly what you need to experience. It is what will shape you for the end - the end that never seems come.
Your journey, despite how crazy/awesome it gets, will be worth it. I can’t stress that enough.
Your journey will be worth it! Worth it in ways that mystify you, scare you and make you want to pump your fist in the air with major earth shattering excitement!
I’d like to sum it all up like this...One time, when my siblings and I were younger, our parents took us to this rope climbing tower. It was a long drive and I don’t remember the circumstances exactly, but I do remember one thing.
How scared I was.
The tower was HUGE. Taller than my dad (which is saying something!). And when you are small and afraid of heights, but more afraid of missing out on experience, what do you do? The wise thing, of course.
You let your younger siblings climb first.
And then you climb.
It was terrifying - if terrifying is enough to express terror and shaky hands gripping what you knew were the flimsiest ropes that they could have used when installing this thing.
If you’re wondering, I did make it to the top. Not because I wanted to, but because my younger sister did and there was no way she could beat me. So naturally, I didn’t relish the view. I may have enjoyed it, but I did not relish in it, as I should have.
Then we went home and time ran its course.
Day by day, week by week, extending into months and years, I grew. I grew into the next moment when my parents said “Let’s go back”.
And I was faced with the fear of that giant rope tower once again.
Imagine it. Pulling up to the park. The doors slamming, the freshness of summer blowing cool air against your arms and legs. Little feet padding over gravel, sidewalk, grass and wood chips. The pause. The tilt of the head to take in the… tower? The thought of, “Did it shrink?” meshed with “Here goes nothing.”
I climbed it.
I climbed that thing and realized two things.
- My fears had shrunk with the tower while my surety had grown with my height.
- I was afraid of nothing (a common theme in my life).
Shoulders back, hands outstretched, up up up, feet up, arms up, sorta sweaty, but no longer afraid. No longer paralyzed. No longer weighed down. Free. So free. With the wind with the hair in the wind with the puffed out shirt in the wind that’s where it was.
That, my dear friend, is why the pain and toil is worth it. That is why the slow method that feels like fire, the constant frustration, the tears, the sweat, the blood - is worth it. Because when you go back to your tower and you find that hey, it doesn’t look so scary anymore - hey, I can climb it - hey, I don’t need the support of anyone but myself this time - HEY I’m at the top and WOW the view up here is incredible - that is what makes it worth it.
You’ll get to the top and you’ll see how all the moments, each and every break down and baby step that sparked the growth of something incredible: a bolder, better you.
And that, my friends, is the marvelous magnificence of growth.