Growth Through Discomfort
Have you ever had the inkling of a idea, but were afraid to explore it because of how you might feel, or what it might change? And then, have you challenged yourself to see that line of thought through, because it was worthwhile to figure out? Or perhaps you set it aside and ignored it, to avoid discomfort. I’ve done both.
Discomfort is key to much of personal growth. Especially the kind encountered in understanding thoughts that terrify you. You grow when you see the ways those thoughts fit into your mindset and life. But shit can be heavy, and difficult to process. Leaving home, breaking up with a romantic partner, questioning a belief system, the passing of a loved one, or recognizing your own mortality. Everyone will confront tough topics.
When I initially distance myself from a topic, I’ll eventually feel a kind of guilt. As if I already know what I think, but I’m not admitting it. Sitting with and processing the stream of consciousness puts me in a better position, even though it sucks to get there. I’m more honest with myself, and can feel confident about a decision.
Not exploring ideas for the fear of what I might find is a kind of self-censorship. Holding them at arms length protects the ego a little longer. Another kind of self-censorship is related to my persona as shared with others. Have you ever been afraid to admit something to a friend? Maybe you discuss politics with a coworker, but avoid it at all costs around your grandparents? Then you know what I mean. Self-censoring is when you curate your thoughts, emotions, and actions to fit the group you’re with.
We all play certain roles in certain settings, and boundaries like censorship can help. It’s part of successfully navigating society. But it seems odd to consider censoring yourself to yourself, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s some protective strategy done awry.
Honesty Through Discovery
I have greatly enjoyed writing more this year. I’ve flexed creative muscles which had atrophied, and come to understand more about myself. There may even be health benefits associated with it.
Posting regularly to this blog is rewarding as a means of visible progress. And I’ve encouraged others to write about and share topics, no matter the size. But some of my pieces aren’t, and may never be, public.
Often it takes time to bring an idea to completion. So a piece may sit in limbo, until I take it across the finish like. Some topics feel too personal to want to release. Still others may be venting or reactionary; more emotional than well-composed. And what about the ideas you’re uncertain what the ramifications might be?
That’s fine. Not everything has to be public. In fact, some things should be private. In the same way that I wouldn’t speak every thought, I won’t post every writing. It’s hard enough to discover yourself in private, thanks to the tendency to avoid difficult thoughts, without adding in the worry that someone else will read it and judge you.
This is why privacy, both analog and digital, is crucial. If you suspect everything you say or do is known by other people, you modify your thoughts and behavior. You censor. And censoring prevents you from discovering who you are, and what you truly think and feel.
If something might be seen in the future by parents, significant others, employers, or, someday, by children, it makes sense to be a bit reserved. Things on the Internet are forever, and people can easily misinterpret.
Sensitive topics might make sense only to discuss with close friends or family. While another subset only make sense to discuss with yourself. Removing the scrutiny, real or imagined, of the all-seeing eye can give you the courage to be real and open and honest.
The more important part is that the writing and thinking and questioning occurs. That you’re learning more about what you think each day. That you’re figuring out the world on the fly. That you’re seeing just how little you know, and are willing to change your world-view as new facts come to light.
Explore those frightening and gut-wrenching thoughts. Don’t censor yourself to yourself. You’ll get to know you better. Not everything has to be public, and that’s a fortunate thing.