Summer is just around the corner and I’m finally getting around to writing a post I had in mind for springtime. I was going to take the opportunity to talk about my love for spring, how excited I was to work in my garden, and how the sweet sounds of baseball would be back. Since it’s still technically spring for a few more weeks, I guess I’m not actually late. I’ve had this topic in mind since I was driving to the airport to pick up my cousin months ago. I started to imagine my next solo trip and, in the process, came around to realizing I wasn’t one ounce nervous to start at a new college. It got me thinking about how much I’ve grown in the last few years and the different reasons as to why I did. I had gone the majority of my life thus far being scared, nervous, unsure, needing something or someone to hold onto if a new experience was headed my way. Heck, I didn’t even want to call and make my own doctor’s appointment for the longest time. Somewhere along the way, something changed. Maybe it was the natural growing up process, but I think it started around the time when I planted my first garden. Perhaps coincidental, perhaps not, but because of this, I give you cheesy garden analogies that I really do believe helped me to grow.
- Going back to your roots. A few years ago, I decided to start a garden. I’m not sure what my motivation was. Probably the fond memories of eating fresh snap peas from the garden my family had when I was younger. Although I was excited about my garden, I remember being hesitant to dig my hands in dirt again. I spent a good chunk of my childhood digging holes, flipping over rocks to look at bugs, and collecting ladybugs and roly-polies that suffered due to my naive curiosity. A moment of silence, please, for the bug lives lost. Over the years, I had distanced myself from all of that, but had I really changed? Fast forward five years and I still look forward to gardening. I still hate coming across pincher bugs, just as I always have, but have rekindled my love for getting my hands dirty. Seriously, there’s nothing better than dirty hands. Another thing I’ve revived from childhood is my interest in fashion. Am I super fashionable? No, but I’m starting to take a greater interest in putting outfits together again just as I did when I was growing up. However, I don’t expect to dress in head-to-toe pink and look like a walking stick of bubble gum as I did in my younger days. I’ve also come to accept that no amount of lifting weights or doing cardio can ever replace the pure enjoyment I get from doing anything gymnastics related. It ignites my creativity, allows me to tap into my determination, and feels like home. Although I only spent three years of my life doing gymnastics, it is still a large part of who I am. Sometimes growing takes getting back to your roots. My mom and I have discussed numerous times whether or not we’re our truest selves when we’re children. Whether you disagree or not, think about it for a second. Do you still enjoy the same activities? The same foods? Scared of the same things? Of course, things do change, but what has remained the same? Or what do you miss?
- Branching out. I will admit, I love my comfort zone. I have learned, however, that taking a step out of it can introduce you to new experiences and new people, which is actually a ton of fun. Sometimes it takes taking a solo trip and dealing with unexpected events, like missing your flight because you were lost in an unfamiliar city at 4am trying to drop off your rental car, to make you see how capable you are and how occasionally you have to grab hold of whatever fear you may have and figure it out. Other times, it can take trying a new food, going back to school, starting a new job or taking two seconds to be brave and initiate interest with someone you’ve had your eye on. Don’t always be the person watching everyone else dance, be the one who drags everyone out on the dance floor.
- Cutting back. Some plants require pruning, or trimming, in order to maintain their health or continue producing whatever it is they bless us with. Similarly, decreasing or eliminating things in our lives can propel us forward in ways we might not have expected. I struggled for a long time with comparing myself to others on social media. I finally had enough of it and decided to delete my Instagram. Besides clearing up my time, it also cleared up my mind, allowing me to just be myself and not worry about what some girl in Holland looked like or why I was home catching up on Jeopardy! on a Saturday night rather than partying with friends. I eventually created a new account, but I’m no longer stuck in that cycle of comparing myself and beating myself up because of not being like others. It’s okay to take a step back and start back up with a clean slate. In certain cases this might mean that some people in your life don’t make it to the next round, but the important thing is to listen to what you need in order to flourish.
- Standing up for yourself. I took a horticulture class once and learned that staking trees isn’t actually always beneficial to their health. By staking them, you’re giving them a crutch to lean on when other forces try to knock them down. Rather, if you give them room to bend with the wind, the roots will dig deeper to create a sturdier foundation. As silly as it sounds, I think the same thing can be true for humans. The more you get knocked down, the more opportunities you have to take hold and stand up for yourself, in whatever way that may be. Address issues quickly, don’t accept negative comments, and work towards doing what you know to be right.