I reached a point in my life where I felt as though I needed to meet people who were "further along" than I was in order for me to keep growing or evolving as a person. In truth, I would never encounter or experience growth the way I truly wanted with a mindset that led me to stay within my comfort zone, to continuously search outside of myself by playing it safe and keeping a closed mind to the opportunities, experiences or relationships that were right there in front of me. I was inevitably stuck within my own ways and limitations which in turn was limiting my growth. The longer I searched for this encounter or experience, the more I felt stuck, frustrated and disappointed and eventually became content with the idea of never finding those opportunities or meeting those people.
I now believe it may have felt as though I would never encounter or find people who were "further along" because those opportunities were and have always been all around me. I had this idea or expectation of what someone who is "further along" may be, look like or bring.
Psychology says: "Always go with the choice that scares you the most because that's the one that's going to help you grow." So instead of searching for more, expecting more and reaching for this idea of meeting people who were "further along," what would happen if I chose to do what scared me the most, slowed down and questioned what was around me?
What is this experience trying to teach me? What areas of my life is this relationship reflecting back to me for my own personal growth? What lessons are present for me to learn that I may seem to keep repeatedly encountering? How can I turn this experience into an opportunity for me to look inward?
To experience growth in a way that challenged me and evolved exponentially, I had to be willing to surrender to the unknown and step outside my COMFORT ZONE. In order for any of us to truly experience growth or to evolve as individuals... we must be willing to step outside what feels comfortable for us.
There are three quotes that have stuck with me for life! The first is written by Neale Donald Walsch, and it says, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
The other by Abraham Maslow who said: "Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth)."
And lastly, a quote by Matshona Dhliwayo: "Knowledge is an eternal student, wisdom is a timeless master."
We are all on our own path in this life, each one unique only to us and the amazing thing about that is there doesn't have to be this idea of being "further along," but rather to embrace, lean into or acknowledge that each and every one of us has something to offer in some way. We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. The wisdom or knowledge we each have to share comes from the relationships we have encountered, the experiences we have endured, the growth or personal work we have done on ourselves, acknowledging our shit... as well as owning up & taking responsibility for it, the mistakes we have made and the lessons we have learned along our journey.
For example, I now view people or my relationships as mirrors for areas in which I may need to work on, become aware of or open my mind. It is an opportunity that is being mirrored back to me as a challenge for me to look within myself. To really challenge yourself and your growth you must be willing to work from the inside-out... not the outside-in. Now I have opened my mind to the possibility that every encounter comes with the opportunity to be challenged, to grow and to learn from someone whose journey will challenge me and my growth one way or another. These opportunities can offer a challenge in expanding your own mind, becoming more self-aware, learning something new, taking back your power, recognizing patterns or behaviors, lessons you may need to learn and areas within yourself you can strengthen by working on. I have learned to open my mind, expand my thinking and to be observant of my relationships and the relationships I continue to encounter along the way.
I experienced life-changing or growth challenging moments when I started to live outside my comfort zone, let go of my attachments around expectations or my idea of meeting people "further along" and instead surrendered, acknowledged and embraced each relationship for what it was and for what it had to teach me.
Emanuelle Quintal said it beautifully and it is a valuable reminder for myself and everyone included: "Every teacher is an eternal student. "
So if you ever have this dying urge to be challenged or to experience relationships that may challenge your growth like I did, keep an open mind and question the relationships (when I referrer to relationships I mean ALL relationships) in your life and ask yourself what this relationship is trying to teach you.
It's going to be uncomfortable as fuck, it will be scary, you will be required to look within yourself and to step outside your comfort zone... but you will grow, you will be challenged and it will be BEAUTIFUL!