Is it possible to work on ourselves as individuals while we are involved in relationships?
Do relationships hinder our personal growth? Is personal growth something we need to work on alone?
Last year I made a bold move that led me to ponder upon some of these questions. After closing a few significant chapters in my life, I packed my bags and headed to San Diego. But this move epitomized more than just a simple change of location. I was ready to embark on a new path. To me, this move symbolized freedom, personal growth and the beginning of a journey to discover how I was going to go about making my own unique mark on this world.
In my mind, this beginning of discovering myself meant that I had to prepare for a lot of alone time—time to quietly sit with myself and time to figure everything out in my own head. As a relatively introverted person, this was all I knew. So when I met a special someone soon after my arrival, I was in for a mind-altering surprise.
The last thing on my mind was to dive head first into a new relationship. After all, how could I grow personally and work on myself if I was expected to focus so much of my time on another person? Wasn’t focusing on myself, and myself only, the only way I could continue to progress? Wasn’t the vulnerability of a relationship a massive risk for someone who was already not exactly clear as to whom they even were?
Relationships require us to wear our hearts on our sleeves.
They require openness and vulnerability. They require a lasting commitment. So naturally, we all let these thoughts run through our mind from time to time. Especially in periods of our lives when we feel it is necessary to spend time working on ourselves.
But this was different. The undeniable pull I had toward this person was something I simply could not ignore. I knew I had to give this a shot, and so I did. Although apprehensive and at times difficult in the beginning, I trusted the comfort and overall sensation of contentment that this person gave me. And boy, am I glad that I did.
The lesson I learned is one that we could all benefit from in our own relationships: the power of connection and the way our relationships actually help us to grow as individuals.
His unique perspectives on life broadened my own and in turn, expanded my thinking tremendously. Soon enough I was looking at the world from a new angle. I saw more opportunities for myself, new issues I felt a calling to and even career possibilities I had never thought of.
His honesty gave me a sense of hope for the rest of mankind, something I had never had before. It led me to a new belief. A belief that people really were genuinely good hearted at their core. It also ultimately motivated me to raise my own personal standards and values. And as a result, I now hold myself to even higher levels of integrity, which has pushed my personal growth along vastly.
The way he graciously and serenely deals with the curve-balls thrown his way taught me just how unnecessary it really is to feel stressed and worried about things that are ultimately of no importance. As I continued to mature and learn myself, I realized that I no longer needed to feel anxious about my future or concerned about the rate at which I was progressing in my life.
And lastly, his unconditional support changed everything. It led me to feel more empowered. More empowered in my decisions and more empowered in my own personal journey of self-discovery. I now feel as if I can conquer anything and I know his support plays a vital role in this.
Looking back now, it was almost as if the timing of when he came into my life served as a reminder. A reminder that we, as humans, are all collectively on this journey together. Whether we like it or not, we thrive off of connections with other beings. At our core we all crave connection, support and love; a deep, genuine connection to give us a new perspective, never-ending support to give us more assurance to do the things we have always dreamed of and unconditional love to give us meaning behind it all. And when we feel these connections, we are catapulted into new versions of ourselves. Versions we may have never even known existed.
For me, in a time of change, the power of connection and relationship helped me to flourish. It helped me gain clarity of my own personal truth. And this is something we can all benefit from in all of our relationships.
This is not to disempower us as individuals, but instead, to teach us to embrace the love and support that comes our way. Whether it is a friendship, relationship or an acquaintance we hardly know, let’s choose to explore these connections and see where they can take us in our own personal evolution. Let’s grow in numbers.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Author: Natalie Lucci
Apprentice Editor: Heather Lacy; Editor: Travis May
Image: Author’s Own