Friday, July 26, 2002

Growing Pains

I remember when I was about 13 years old I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible cramping in my legs. My calf muscles were in spasm and my legs hurt so badly I thought I was going to die. I was certain I had developed some strange disease that would paralyze me and I would forever be confined to my bed—or worse yet I had some form of cancer that would leave me with just a few months to live (just a tad melodramatic). I cried out for help and my Mom came to the rescue. She assured me that I was simply experiencing “growing pains.”

Now, I am thirty and pondering why it is pain is always associated with growth? Why does it have to hurt to grow? I want to be a better person; I want to “think outside the box” so-to-speak. I want to be a lifelong learner –one who never sees a day pass without at least gleaning some tidbit of fascinating information. On the other hand, not being a masochist, I don’t want to experience any more pain than absolutely necessary. As of yet, however, I have not been able to determine how to avoid it. Do you think the pain/growth cycle could be the reason you see people become stagnant and so very set in their ways? Do we turn inward to avoid the pain of growth?

In the last three years I have done a lot of growing; experienced a lot of joy but also a lot pain. I left the comfort of familiarity to move halfway across the country to begin a new job. I was excited at the prospect of working with a good friend again and I was really ready for a change. Well, at least I thought I was ready.

I moved from a rather large metropolitan area (read about 5 million) to a place I affectionately, and appropriately, call “teenie weenie tiny town.” The town was so small it did not even have a Wal-Mart and they rolled up the sidewalks at 5 p.m. Long-story-short, the guy I went to work with left 4 months after I got there, three months after that my boss called me in to say “we know you were hired to do this but in actuality we need you to do this instead.” In other words, you job about 180 degrees opposite of what you were hired to. Rather than disrupt my life again with another move I decided to stick-it-out and try to make it work. BIG MISTAKE! I ended up leaving after 10 months more miserable than I had ever been in my life. Now I had no job, no place to live, and absolutely no self-esteem. My one lifeline through the whole experience was my fiancé, now husband. He believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

Somehow through the haze of absolute disbelief at my circumstances, I found a place to live, moved to the Queen City and after a few despondent, and extremely financially tight months, found another job (the one I currently have). I was naïve. I was blind to a lot of “politics.” I believed, unabashedly, in the “honesty” of others. I was wrong. I led a very sheltered life and I also gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and tried to find the good in people. I have since discovered not everyone has good in them; I have become quite the cynic but I am still here.

All this brings to mind the trite phrase “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” What does it mean? It seems, to me, to fall on the Darwinist side of things. What if an experience does kill someone? Does that mean they were too weak? Maybe it just means that people come in all different varieties –some are sturdier than others are. Gold is more rare and precious than steel but steel is more sturdy, able to withstand great pressure. Does that diminish the existence of either? No, it simply means that you use gold ornamentally and steel fundamentally –both are necessary components to life.

Sometimes I look back over that experience and wonder why it had to happen. My beliefs were called into question during my struggles and I don’t know that I have any more concrete answers then I did at the time. Am I a better person for having experienced that pain? Does the pain of growth necessarily equate to becoming a better person or does it simply mean I am a different person than I was before. I don’t know.

Let’s just say I have grown. It was painful

Thanks to Lance Riley’s archived blogs ( for the inspiration.


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