The thematic epicenter of most, if not all, conversations and content lately have been: growth. At least, that has been my major takeaway as I learn more about the world, our country, culture, politics, racism, the economy, etc.
This morning I watched the first few episodes of Oprah’s new show that featured NFL player Emmanuel Acho, creator of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. By the end of the episodes, I was struck by the amount of growth I witnessed from the panel of participants. The race discussion is just one example, but I think we’ve all experienced profound growth in many ways recently.
To me growth is discomfort, it’s change, it’s forward motion and acceptance. Growth challenges our ideals and biases.
A few months back, I came out the gates swinging with food blogs because that brought me immense joy and happiness. I was excited to apply the things I’ve learned recently (aka growth I’ve experienced) in a few different ways. But also I need to just write it out sometimes, so here we go.
Growth at home
At the intersection of all this growth was two things. For one, I was becoming a more skilled cook at home. I was soaking all the knowledge in and exploring new culinary territories and learning about exciting things like, salt! Secondly, I am now an experienced digital strategist with a ton of room to grow still. So this blog serves as a digital playground for me. Essentially, two skillsets I am actively growing crashed together in a supernova of inspiration.
In a literal sense, there have been a lot of physical growth in our house since COVID-19. Not only has my waistline grown (HA), but our kiddos have sprouted like weeds. They’re learning new words and concepts every day. They’ve grown closer as siblings and we’ve grown tighter as a family. They’ve both grown several inches and are completely different kiddos than they were in March.
I’m so thankful to have had so much time with them, although it’s been a STRUGGLE some days. I’ll admit I’ve seen some pretty dark days in the last six months. I know I’m not alone in this. Feeling the pull between doing the right thing by protecting our family from the virus often clashes with my personal mental health.
We are all struggling in different ways right now, so I’m not here to compare hardships. With no end in sight right now, it can feel helpless some days.
In those moments of helplessness, it’s time to turn towards gratitude. Yes, times have been unbelievably hard, but we have:
- Our health
- A beautiful home
- Stable jobs
- Food to eat
- Each other
For me, one of the biggest sources of gratitude is our sources of income and feeling secure in my professional life. You may know that I work for a local utility provider where our mission is critical to the livelihood of our community. So I find a lot of pride in the fact that I am contributing to something bigger than myself.
On top of all of that, our leadership is genuinely committed to its workforce and the evolution of employees. A literal example of that is putting all of us through the NLI’s Growth Mindset Training.
This is a really popular workplace curriculum right now, but if you’re not familiar it teaches the concept of a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.” The idea is that a more open and willing-to-learn workforce creates and supports a more diverse, creative and resilient organization.
It’s not just for work though. The idea is that you can apply it to all areas of your life and I’m seeing it more and more. For instance, this interactive Monster Math game we just discovered jumps straight into a lesson for kids on growth mindset, in kid-friendly words of course. They even followed up with an email to me to explain growth mindset to reinforce the concept, which I thought was really cool.
There are big examples of growth, of course. But to me, the most profound growth I’ve experienced these past six or so months have been in the little moments. In my personal growth. Yes, I mentioned that some days have been really dark. My cup runs totally dry most days, but I’ve noticed a big shift within how I talk to myself.
When I’m past my feelings of overwhelm, I try to assess what I’m feeling in a non-judgmental way. What triggered me to feel that way? What could I have done differently? Do I owe anyone an apology or an explanation of my behavior? I’ve found that talking about these lessons with not only myself, but my family has created a more open and trusting relationship.
Because at the end of the day, we all have our internal struggles and OH YEA A PANDEMIC, AND BEING STUCK INSIDE, AND IT’S HOT AS HELL, AND SOCIAL INJUSTICE, AND CRAPPY LEADERS AND POLITICIANS AND PEOPLE IN OUR SOCIETY.
I digress… All of this to say. Something else that has really bothered me lately, but I’m hoping will get better….is the hostile environment social media has evolved into. If you use social media, there’s a lot of things you can do to try to shape the digital bubble you’re in. You can delete people, follow inspirational accounts, limit your usage, etc.
let’s normalize growth
However, you should really try to diversify your feed and information at the same time. Sound tricky? Because it is! It’s a delicate balance to strike when you want to surround yourself with things that make you feel good and bring you comfort. But that doesn’t create an inclusive perspective on your own behalf. Plus, add biased algorithms and systems into the mix… we’re all sorts of cluster f’ed.
In addition to being more open human beings, we need to normalize the growth of others online and in-person. It’s ok to say “oh, wow… I didn’t know that, thank you for sharing that information or your perspective with me.”
It’s ok to change your mind on things and it’s ok to admit you don’t know something. It shouldn’t be about proving the other person wrong. It should really be about listening to each other and making others feel validated, no matter how much our opinions diverge. Multiple realities and truths can (and do) exist.
I recently listened to an episode of The Daily, where host Michael Barbaro spoke to Twitter’s founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. My biggest takeaways from that was the fact that social media is basically an ongoing societal, psychological and cultural experiment. These online platforms were created and unforeseen ripple effects have been seen on many levels.
create, assess, iterate
Another basic concept that Dorsey brings to the forefront of the conversation is the need to constantly evolve. When talking about creative concepts or digital platforms we use the word iteration. Iteration is basically another word for version. Iterations are built from previous versions of itself. The key to this, just start somewhere.
We all begin somewhere. It’s our job to evaluate and evolve, in other words, create iterations of ourselves. Also, it’s up to us to always be curious and seek new information. It’s our jobs to get uncomfortable. We need to wake up a different person than we were yesterday. And it’s our jobs to be graceful with ourselves and each other even when that growth or change isn’t obvious.
Sometimes planting the seed is all it takes. Sometimes it’s better to realize we can’t force growth and change upon each other. It’s ok to not see eye to eye with people. People will always remember how you made them feel, so even if you don’t agree, it’s so important that we treat each other with respect.
I don’t really know where else this post is going other than to get some of that writing juju out, I’ve been ITCHING ya’ll. I guess this post serves as a PSA to anyone who needs permission to be more themselves, to admit when we’re wrong, to show grace to eachother and ourselves, to feel overwhelmed, to feel stuck. It’s all ok! The growth starts to happen in the acknowledgment and the grace.
How are you growing?
Just remember, if mushrooms can thrive in cow poop, then you can still grow in our current environment. LOLLLL.
I have so much more to ramble on about this, but I’m going to stop here. Do you enjoy hearing my thoughts on this kind of stuff or should I just stick to learning to cook? Ha! But really, I’m here for anyone that needs to talk…this sh!t has been bananas lately.
How have you been handling life? Coping? Any big revelations or even little ones you’re grateful for? How are you???? Please reach out… I enjoy interacting with you and am here for you!