Are you as obsessed with self-help content as I am?
In general, when it comes to our self-development and basically growing into smart confident and beautiful women, we like to think of the growth in terms of what we achieve by ourselves.
And there are plenty of options out there that cater to this insatiable desire for perfection.
For instance, you can enroll in online classes about body language all while rocking a onesie in front of the computer.
You can follow your favorite Youtube celebrity and improve your grownup abilities with their advice.
No matter where you place your chips, we all have some sort of investment in personal development because we obviously have an investment in ourselves.
Real personal growth occurs at the intersection where knowledge and experience collide.
Many smart women understand this, but most of us only think of this growth in terms of what we do on our own.
We’re thrown into a world that teaches us to be independent, self-sufficient women.
It’s tough to be a twenty-something year old woman in America. Our culture caters to giving us information that teaches us the things that society says we need to be good at.
Independence. Maturity. Growth. Productivity. Be successful, but not too successful. Be a girl but not too much of a girl.
And you see it on the regular.You feel these ideas branded red into your skull.
We fight to make a place in the world even with social barriers working against us. And on top of that we’re starting the process at a younger age.
The reason we like to talk about personal growth in terms of the individual (or at least the reason I think so) is because we want people to think we got all our ducks lined in a row.
There’s an allure in making people believe that our smells pretty.
We want others to see our growth only after all the work has been good and done. We want others to buy into the illusion that we are organically already this awesome.
You’re just naturally born happy and well-adjusted, aren’t ya?! lol
The original idea of “self”-development lies within the title itself. So it’s no surprise that this is how we think about and relate to personal growth.
And like an onion, if you peel back the layers you’ll probably come to find that there are many of us who are fed up from the constant bombardment of self-help stuff telling us we need to change and grow.
The entire online community has become over-saturated with books, videos, and courses that claim to make you a better person. It can get annoying to constantly feel like you have to always improve on yourself.
It’s probably also why there’s an equal push towards the stupid and nonsensical. It’s just too much pressure to be perfect all the damn time. We have to balance the intelligence out with a little brainlessness, right?
Like when is enough enough?
I’m sure you’ve experienced this before.
You know the feeling you get when you see yet another video about “10 new ways that will literally change your life”
It never does change your life. EVER. Make the madness stop!!
But instead of running away from the Godzilla this conversation has grown into, maybe we can learn a thing or two about how we approach our own personal growth.
Part of the process moving forward has to include a belief that we need to expand outside of our own comfort zones. But if you were sold into the idea that self growth is meant to be engaged with as a one-woman band, then you’ll always hit personal road blocks. Because whether we like it or not, other people are invested in our success.
We actually matter to the world.
Your ability to deal with your emotions in a healthy way has a direct impact on your family and friends. Your ability to complete a task efficiently has a direct impact on the success of society. Your negative body image and self esteem has an influence on how other women feel about themselves when they see you posting pictures on Instagram. Yes, I am saying that you not dealing with your shit actually causes people harm. We all have a responsibility to one another.
And so I’m gonna twist your arm a bit and say that maybe part of the self-development crisis is that we’re excluding other people from our process.
We’re social creatures after all.
If we know anything about how people function it’s that we usually rely heavily on others for things we need. We need people in our lives. Good people.
We go to specific friends for emotional support after that A-hole dumped you over text. You reach out to a family member when you have to make big life decisions about if you should take that new job in Hawaii or not. Maybe we even like to go to certain someones to bounce new ideas off of. What ever the case we are always about people. We use others as resources to better ourselves.
It’s always going to be about the vibrancy of the connection.
When you read an article or watch a video a part of you believes you are connecting with other humans. That’s what the social aspects of the internet have evolved to try to make us feel.
But it’s really just a one-way feed.
And so personal growth really has evolved around this structure of “I teach you something and then you listen” when really it needs to be about face-to-face interactions.
It boils down to the quality of the experiences you have with other human beings.
Do most people actually integrate what they learn? Do we really know how to fully be accountable for our progress without feedback? I know we’re told that we’re responsible for ourselves, but aren’t we missing the bigger picture?
The fact of the matter is that change is hard. It can be damn near impossible at times. For the majority of us as long as your having new experiences and meeting new people you will be exposed to enough diversity in life that it will force you to look into the mirror directly. But there will be moments in all of our lives where we just don’t want that feedback .
We’re actually more resistant to it than ever before.
We simply don’t want people to tell us just how fucked up we are to our face. To admit that we need to improve on ourselves is admitting that we are not perfect.
Could that be the reason why we look at growth in the singular?
Yet other people are a necessary piece of the puzzle. They can see things in areas we are blind to, and they can move the mirror away from our face when we’re staring at ourselves too long.
Yes, a huge part of self-development comes from you the individual. If you’re not motivated to create motion in your life it won’t happen, even if you convinced the entire Shark Tank panel to fund your life (which would be a pretty impressive feat if I do say so myself).
We become more honest adults and can fine-tune our personal skills as we experience life in the now. You try this and you try that all in order to find out in the end that you never really liked medical school after all.
And what do you know, you just learned something about where your values lie.
(Sorry mom and dad!)
But even if you’re the type of person who learns about yourself simply through trial and error, you have to admit that most of your experiences have you in a position with you interacting with other people.
And this is a powerful thought because when we finally recognize that we all have a stake in the mental success of our friends, family and even the strangers we pass by on the street we can start to make change happen.
But like for real this time.
Have you ever indoor skydived before? Personal development is kinda like that.
You go into this tube thingie where a giant fan generates enough wind to lift you up off the ground. The experienced instructor (other people who have our best interests) holds your hand and maneuvers your body so you don’t flip over or crash. He lets go of you when he feels like you have found your control but when you lose your balance he’s back in to reposition you.
This is the power of the other. You can achieve many things on your own, but using people in our lives to keep us in check, to tell us when we’re wrong, to have a dialogue about new ideas….this is where real change happens. We’re the ones actually flying, everyone else is making sure we’re not falling.
Your growth is directly correlated to whether or not you are open to hear how others view you. That isn’t to say you won’t grow at all, but you will for sure be limiting the trajectory.
A library full of books encasing all the information of the world is useless if you don’t ever pull one off the shelves to read. Likewise, knowledge is only as good as your ability to integrate it.
And while it is very difficult to do this all the time, you can appreciate that by involving others into this brain game we play with ourselves it can do wonders to our overall progress.
You don’t have to do things like everyone else. You are perfectly capable of making your own damn rules. But the next time you read another post about how to improve your life, remember that knowledge is only half battle. Open yourself up to the other and make your personal development a group activity.
And we’ll all be better off for that choice.
I knew you were a smart cookie.