Growth

So there I was, sitting in Campus Center across from my advisor and professor. I didn’t stop the tears from coming down my face, even though he could see me crying, along with every other person who wakes up early enough to go to breakfast at 7:00 AM. I didn’t really care that I was crying, and I didn’t try to hide it. Really, the main thing that I was thinking was about my contacts—I’ve ruined enough pairs of contacts by crying mineral-filled tears that I didn’t want to ruin the new contacts I had in.

The breakfast started out quiet. I feel like we were both just eating hash browns and nodding at each other. He wasn’t going to force conversation. Despite the fact that he is a professor, he was not going to lecture at me, and he pointed that out. I didn’t word vomit my life all over him like I normally do when I cry. I just was honest. It is funny because I’d known about this breakfast for a over a week. I feel like I had maybe planned to talk about certain things, but nothing that I had thought I’d say came out of my mouth.

Ultimately, the breakfast came together because, to be blunt, I am too busy or I am taking on too much or something. Not that it has gotten to the point where I have developed a stress ulcer or anything, but I am slightly convinced that my blood pressure is higher. But it is like I told him, this cycle of breakdown and being overwhelmed is not healthy. Moreover, it is keeping me from growing spiritually. I told him, though, there isn’t anything that I can say no to. I am committed. Yet, if I don’t start doing something differently, I’ll probably have to be committed.

My StrengthsQuest results tell me that I am an achiever. He asked me why I felt that I needed to achieve. To be honest, I don’t know. My mom doesn’t expect me to. My friends would still accept me if I didn’t achieve so much. I would probably still have a perfectly fine future in the job world if I did less. Yet, I force myself to achieve. I don’t know what it is in me that feels I need to do, do, do, go, go, go constantly.

It’s a lot like eating onion rings right before working out. Working out is good just like doing things are good, but if you do too much or make stupid decisions (like eating onion rings and then going to exercise), you aren’t going to be making any progress.

In order for growth to happen, I believe there needs to be two things: first, you need to know yourself and second, you must be honest about who you have become.

Know Yourself

I know myself. I’ve done surveys upon surveys upon surveys. I’ve done all the inventories that have been asked of me. I know my “strengths.” I know my weakness, which far outweigh my strengths. I know that I am an introvert. I know myself. But there’s a point when knowing yourself goes deeper. I don’t think I am at the point yet, but I believe you must get from knowing yourself to being your true, authentic self.

Although he probably doesn’t remember because I am sure he meets with a lot of people who vomit their problems all over him, I had a meeting with another one of my professors last year. (Which, surprisingly, is the only other professor to have seen me cry. But my dog had just died the day before, so I knew I was going to cry.) Anyway, he told me that I am loved, desirable, and precious. Three words that would never come up in my answer to “Describe yourself in five words” question. I accept that I am loved, even though I do not always feel it. Desirable, well, I can’t really see myself as that. And precious, yeah, I guess. But I do not live like I believe that I am any of those things.

Be Honest About Who You Have Become

They say that a lot of growth happens in college. It’s funny how instead of a partier, like most people become when they go to college (if they weren’t already when they were in high school), I became an achiever. I do not think that I have always been an achiever. After all, I graduated sixth in my class of twenty-six. My grades were never anything to brag about. I participated in activities, but not to any extreme. But I got an email about being a tutor for a class and I seriously considered saying yes even though I a) don’t have any time and b) didn’t really remember anything from the class, nor did I study for the class. I just wanted to do more. I want to do as much as I can. I guess that’s why it is so important to know your limits.

I think I can be honest about who I have become, but I don’t think I am really there yet either. I’m learning. It is a process. Sometimes a slow process, but eh, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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