I recently went to go get a tattoo. The meaning behind it was simple to me, a concept that has always been a part of my personal mantra. I never want to stop growing. I want to grow in places that no one would ever expect me to grow. I do not want to be the same version of myself that I was a year ago. I want to be better. braver. wiser. stronger. I want my heart to be a place where love is able to grow.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression for a lot of my life, particularly the anxiety. It has defined me for longer than I would like to admit. I have let it stop me from way too many things. However in the past few years I have actively been making a point to make sure that my anxiety does not hold me back from any of the things that matter to me. My anxiety is a part of me. It is not all of me. It only defines me if I allow it to. More than anything, I refuse to play the victim in my own story.
However while getting this tattoo, my worst enemy, but no stranger, my anxiety, greeted me like an old friend. Now, this is not my first tattoo meaning the anxiety was unwarranted. In the end, I ended up with a half finished tattoo on my arm because the shaking I experience while I get my panic attacks is not a proper condition for having a needle coming into contact with my skin. So for the next two weeks I get to look at a reminder of my growth, but the distance I still have to go.
My tattoo about growth, and here it is on my skin reminding me that I am nowhere near finished. I am imperfect. I am a work in progress. I am filled to the brim with flaws. These things do not define me or what I will accomplish in my beautiful life. Just because I am not done growing, doesn't mean I haven't come incredibly far in my journey to wherever God is taking me. I have learned how to make peace with the past. I began to love myself and appreciate the gifts I have to offer to the world. I have started to let myself be who I am without apology and that has made all the difference.
I am a person who has always been terrified of change. I have experienced a lot of it in my nineteen years and most of it were changes that, at the time, were out of my control, and not to my liking. Looking back now, I know that through these changes and adjustments were the places that I grew the most, and I wouldn't change them even if I could now, because they were vital to making me the person I have become. While change and the opportunity to grow still petrifies me, I have begun to greet these obstacles with open arms, and I allow them to take me where I need to go.
Whatever change you are scared of, or the circumstances you have found yourself in, I hope you embrace them, despite them being ideal or not. Whatever obstacles have been presented in your path, I hope you find your way through them with a sense of grace, and allow yourself to be changed for the better, rather than fighting them. We were never designed to be static characters in our story, we were made to change, evolve, grow.
I'm still growing. I hope I never stop. I hope that even when I am ninety years old that I am still being pushed to grow, to love better, and more widely. I am humbled to know that at nineteen, when I feel invincible, I am not. I am a work in progress. Fragile at times. Growth is a sign of life, and if I am growing, that means I am living.
To grow is to live. keep growing.