There are a series of photos I want to share taken by my talented friend Jennifer Bowen and I thought I’d share these images we created with a theme – or rather, a topic and share a story with the theme. For this first post, I want to talk about growth.
Dress: VICI (similar and here) / Heels: Tony Bianco (similar) / Hat: Terrain / Earrings: Anthropologie (similar, love these)
There are moments that make me reflect and realize how far I’ve come. Most recently it happened while sitting next to a table of a generation of younger girls and hearing their carefree conversations. Hearing their conversations often make me smile and reflect (and honestly sometimes make me cringe too) – but they are in the stage they are supposed to be. I think of that stage fondly and at the same time, glad to know that between then and now, I’ve grown a lot.
Growth takes time but it also takes experiences – sometimes painful ones.
We can use our time to study and learn something new, grow in a new passion or career. We can take time to travel the world, see and experience new cultures and things. Or we go through something really hard so all we have is time to think about it and learn how to push forward.
In high school, I wanted to blend in and be like everyone else, look like everyone else who was Caucasian. I was one of the youngest in my class, one of three Asian girls that I recall. I found myself getting along more with the class below me (maybe I was supposed to be held back but at the same time I liked starting college at 17). I was trying so badly to find who I was in high school and didn’t figure it out. Maybe that’s why I don’t mark high school as an important part of my life, to no one’s fault other than my own personal timing.
But in college, I grew. I grew and grew and every day I felt like I grew.
I guess you can say that’s why I loved my college years so much and have so much Wildcat school spirit. I moved from Nor Cal to Arizona, I was able to choose my friends out of 35,000 students. I joined clubs, became active in the community, I just kept jumping into new experiences to expand my circle and kept growing. I was away from home, able to start a new slate and felt comfortable in my own skin. I was immediately praised for my almond shaped eyes, olive skin, thick, shiny hair, and I got so much attention for being me – at parties, through pageantry, modeling, I felt accepted not just by others, but of myself.
I continued to grow even after college in many ways.
Then I remember when I stopped growing. I stopped because I came across individuals who prevented me from growing. But it’s not like I knew I stopped growing, I suddenly felt like I was still the same or trying to figure out myself all over again which was confusing because I knew who I was. There are people you have to be careful about who you let into your circle. They can make it seem like they have your best interest, or they are your best friends, boyfriends, but they want to stunt your growth, change you, or keep you under their thumb.
And sometimes God will remove these people out of your life or move you, so that you can continue to grow.
I say these things to bring attention to your surroundings and any toxic relationships. I honestly have the hardest time using those words because I don’t think people intend to be toxic, they are hurt people hurting others, but that’s another topic. When you are with people you should leave being happy, truly. Not exhausted or trying to convince yourself you are happy or you owe that person your time because of a length of time. Even through silence and stillness in our own thoughts, we grow ourselves.
Time allows us to cultivate a talent, research, learn, grow – if you let it.
When I hear of friends who have more time on their hands due to breakups, job gaps, I say, this is it!
This is time for you to grow.
Take a workshop – travel for it or sign up online, book an epic vacation (even solo), take a class, visit a friend, read, be still, pray, listen, and let time transform you. Also, know that this time is what you make of it.
Over a decade ago I found myself growing solo. It was apparent that every time I was solo just me was better than me + the not right person, I made better decisions – confident ones. When I was in bad relationships I felt stuck, as if I was incapable of making such a decision on my own, and there was no way I would have time to create a new path for myself because I was too “busy” doing other things.
But when I found my husband, I still grew. He actually said to me before we got married he hoped I would never change but he also laughed about it because he said women always change (also hinting that men don’t, which is true). But thankfully, I have changed and continued to grow – and as far as I can tell he still likes it haha.
Most importantly, I like myself.
So in stillness, whether you have more time – purposefully or unintentionally – use it to grow you. Moments like these don’t come that often the older we get, so embrace them and embrace the growth.