What does it really mean to grow?
By Christi Blevins
Have you noticed that time seems to be speeding by as you age? Sometimes life can feel like it’s a scene in an old movie, represented by a calendar rapidly flipping through the months to show the passage of time. To quote the titular Doctor of BBC’s Doctor Who fame, time is not linear, it’s “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey stuff.”
As a child, counting down the days until your birthday is like watching a particularly slow-moving sloth run a marathon. The anticipation is palpable. As an adult, that seedling you planted when you moved into your home is now a towering tree threatening to fall through your roof if you don’t have it trimmed before the next big storm. How did this happen?
Studies have linked this change in the perception of time to the breakdown of developmental periods. As a child, adolescent, or young adult, life is a series of firsts—first steps, first day of school, first job, first kiss… every day is an adventure. Eventually, life can mellow into a series of routines. Many of us settle down, buy a house, have kids of our own, and go to the same jobs for years on end. While our own childhoods seemed to move at a glacial pace, our children appear to grow and change in the blink of an eye. Even the most frazzled parent can tell you that the “days are long, but the years are short.”
For enlightenment, let’s turn to the great wordsmith and understander of growth and change, Dr. Seuss, who wrote, “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
A Change of Pace
The good news is that you aren’t stuck in a wormhole. If you want to slow down your perception of time in an ever-changing world, the solution is fairly basic. Growth is about embracing—and sometimes, about forcing—change. As a child, you cannot help but grow. As an adult, it’s easy for personal growth to stagnate in one area as an exciting new part of life opens. Even without a shiny fresh slice of life, growth can slow over time.
When someone first starts working out, it’s easier to build muscle than after twenty years in the gym. In the first months of learning to touch type, it’s normal to grow exponentially faster quickly. Over time, people’s typing stops improving as the brain recognizes an acceptable level of competence and decides it’s no longer worth the effort to keep developing. The same is true for every aspect of life. “Good enough” becomes good enough.
Sometimes, growth is to change. Sometimes, growth is to embrace what is changing. But in all cases, growth involves change. Each moment arises and passes, some moments longer than others. To grow, after the easy wins and unavoidable progress of aging, you must be brave enough to be bad at something new.