Are the things you’re learning in life transforming who you are becoming?

Today’s writing prompt had to do with growth. I cannot remember what exactly it said, but it made me think about some things I have done and learned throughout my life, so I thought I would write about my thoughts on that subject today. We should be learning every day, and I have had the opportunity to have a lot of growing experiences throughout my life. But I am grateful for a few that I have been more keenly aware of recently.

Watching others, and seeing what they are capable of, especially family and close friends has had a transformative effect on my life. Years ago I watched as several family members and close friends started running as a means of exercise, and then they started doing races. I had thought about taking up running, but my cardiovascular system wasn’t super great at the time. Not that I was sick or anything, I just didn’t have a lot of endurance. I exercised every day, and I even did a lot of cardio, but running was hard. But as I watched these friends and family members break through their own personal barriers, I decided that maybe I could try a little harder as well. As I progressed, I hit a lot of mental barriers, but as I pressed on, I broke through those barriers. Most of my barriers were mental rather than physical, and I learned how to press past the desire to quit. This mental training has had a huge impact on my drive to learn new things and break through walls I have come upon in every other aspect of my life over the years.

The next thing I thought about was when I decided to start a website. I had no idea how to do it, but the commercials on TV all said it wasn’t hard and that they would walk you through the process step by step, so how hard could it be? I started with a different company and just a blog. But soon decided I wanted an ecommerce website, so I switched to WordPress. It didn’t take long before I realized this was going to be harder than I had imagined. I had points at which I wanted to quit, and points at which I cried and didn’t feel like I was smart enough to make this work. I have looked back on this however as a pivotal moment in my growth and transformation.

Having completed this website building process, as well as having changed my website now several times, I have gained additional confidence in my ability to not only do hard things, but to persevere through the desire to quit, the thoughts of incapacity or failure, and was able to finish the job well. The mental training from running being a huge asset to my ability to keep going. Looking back, I am grateful for the things I learned, not only about websites, but about myself. Because of the things I continued to learned about myself, I have had confidence to try even more things in my life, that I otherwise may have shied away from had I not gone through these experiences first.

Not too long ago I was looking through a bunch of my original art, looking for art to donate to a local fundraiser for my community. As I looked through the originals, some of them from when I first started painting, I could see a huge difference from the beginning to now. As I looked through my art, I wondered at what I saw in the first paintings that gave me confidence to even try selling my art. But I, or others who saw my art, saw something encouraging, and I persevered. I have had many paintings that I wanted to throw away half way through the process, and I have had a few that I have actually thrown away in the end, but not too many. Because of what I have learned in other areas of my life, I have learned to trust the process and to keep going. Not everything in life turns out as a masterpiece, but regardless, transformation occurs and we can learn from the process. I am grateful I can see the progress I have made as an artist over the years, and it’s fun to have such a visual representation of that growth.

This last one I’ll share may sound funny, and I wrote about it not so long ago. Making sourdough bread. I have wanted to learn how to make sourdough for years, and in 2020 I decided it was time to really start learning. As I related before, I did not have immediate success, and I stopped trying for a time, but I didn’t give up on the desire or totally quit. I learned more, I found new resources that helped me, and I tried again. The third attempt was the successful one. Sometimes I wonder where my life would be if I always gave up or quit after the first or second failed attempt. I did set it aside for a time, I continued to look for resources and information, and I kept it on the back burner of my mind. It took 2 years of this process, but I finally did make a successful loaf of sourdough bread, and we continue to enjoy the fruits of my learning process on a daily basis.

I love the quote above, because nothing I have done has been earth shattering to anyone else. Most of this stuff is pretty ordinary in nature, but the lessons I have learned and continue to learn, continue to change who I am and make me a better, more determined person. The transformation process will never be complete in this life, and I know we will have opportunity to continue the process in the next. I am grateful I am learning how to keep going, keep trying, and that I can succeed, eventually.

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