Different ways of thinking for people looking for a different way to live. Let's discuss!
Life moves at such an interesting pace. So quickly nowadays. Information moves faster, we move faster, sometimes not even peeking up from under the visor of our everyday routine, shrouding us in more of the same.
And we wonder why we aren’t happy.
I went to get groceries today. I went down the same aisles, dropping the same foods in my cart, without even looking up to meet another eye of a human other than the cashier.
Head down, keep moving.
Zipping from one end of the store to the other, having forgotten certain items that never made it to my actual list but popped up in the moment.
Head down, keep moving.
Dragging plastic bag after plastic bag from the cart to my car and running to drop the cart in the right place where they’re collected, thank you very much.
Head down, keep moving.
Loading as many bags as I can onto my arms when I get home—sometimes 8 at a time—from my car into the house, winding around an overly eager pup’s squeals.
Head down, keep moving.
And then I started putting the food into the fridge, which had to be put on pause because I hadn’t emptied the fridge of leftovers and such for over two weeks, and there was no waiting for that.
I grabbed a new garbage bag from under the sink. I knew the garbage was already a bit too full for what I’d need.
Head down, keep moving.
I started grabbing plastic fruit bins and tossing them into the bag. Some leftovers were too far gone to even care about the completely reusable plastic tupperware containers they were stored in.
So I just tossed those into the garbage bag too—I have plenty more.
Head down, keep moving.
I found some spoiled yogurt, grabbed it, and looked down at the bag’s bulging sides, tossing it in and turning back to the fridge.
Head down, — wait.
I looked back at the bag.
I not only threw away a ridiculous amount of plastic without even really…noticing, but I also wasted a lot of food. There was a large container of meat that I made and just…didn’t want to eat for several days, a bowl of at least 3 more serving sizes (maybe 2) of mixed salad.
A bowl of rice with beef and onion from two weeks ago when I ordered chinese food.
Several pieces of fruit from the bin on my counter.
And I didn’t even realize I was wasting so much.
Because the truth is that I do care about the environment. I care about wasting food, and I had in fact told someone close to me that I was making an effort to waste less food not two weeks before today.
But I was throwing away a big bag full of it.
I hadn’t even been paying attention.
I move move move, so quickly, all the time, that I don’t even realize that I am not living up to who I really want to be—to who I truly am.
And I can’t help but think a lot of the rest of the world is probably doing the same thing.
Who would we be if we just…paid attention?
If we caught ourselves in the moment of awareness and stopped ourselves from doing something that was against our morals or values or even just our goals?
If we instead chose what we wanted, intentionally, and lived up to that?
Who could we be?
When we think of self-development and personal growth, we often think about people who teach it and what their lives look like now…
The Tony Robbins and Brene Browns of the world, preaching their findings to wanting ears. These people who have millions of dollars, a family life to envy. People who are really living a dream that still feels so far out of reach for those of us on the outside, our noses smashed against the glass of their star-studded Instagram feeds, desperate for a closer look.
And when we start trying, when we actually put forth some effort toward real change and making something out of our lives…we end up stuck.
Why do they seem so happy even though they’re doing the same things we’re learning from them? Why does it genuinely just fucking suck to do? Isn’t it supposed to be making our lives better, not worse?…
After over 6 years of intentional growth in this department, it’s still hard sometimes. But there is a reason for it. And where there’s a reason, there is understanding. What you’ll come to understand here is that sometimes all you need is recognition to trigger a different perspective.
It’s called “growing pains” because there are a few parallels between physical growth and emotional and mental growth.
When you’re a child growing up, you outgrow a few things, like toys and jeans and shoes for the physical, and for the mental, it’s things like hobbies, toxic habits, and people. But as you grow, there are actual pains that come along with it. Whether it’s an ache in your lengthening legs or something more emotional. Not every moment will be easy and painless, and oftentimes, these periods come in seasons.
One late night, right before bed as I was trying to fall asleep with my mind racing. I kept running through why I was having a hard time emotionally.
I had recently been through a rough time with a guy (ugh), and we had a very necessary hour-long conversation after he had done things to hurt me emotionally. During the conversation, I found myself feeling outside of my body a little bit, almost like I was simply watching it unfold.
The Bella from a few years ago—even a single year ago—would have sounded so differently, much more angry and emotionally charged…
But the Bella on that call was calm, clear. She stood up for herself and spoke her truth and that was…weird.
As I was lying in bed falling asleep, I felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t a physical discomfort but something just felt…off. And as I let my thoughts go and my inner monologue take over, I actually wrote down what it was saying about this era of growth for myself—about this very realization nobody actually tells you about self-development:
There will come a time in your journey of self growth where you don’t recognize yourself. You feel like a stranger to yourself. THIS is growth. You are evolving before your eyes. Do not hide away from this, but lean in. Get to know the new you, appreciate it in the moment, because if you’re doing life right, you’ll feel this way again and again over the years. It will feel easy to pull back to the self you know, the one whose thoughts are predictable—albeit worse—than they are with your new self.
Because we find comfort in the normal, even if that normal is uncomfortable.
You have to embrace discomfort in your identity to truly become who you are—who you’re striving to be.
Think about a time you were around people you didn’t know at all, strangers.
Depending on your personality type, you may have been fine, even talkative. Or, you may have been like me, quiet and on the outside. Perhaps hiding in a corner, observing.
Now imagine one person finds you, and comes in closer. They invade your personal space, and in fact, they start saying things to you, talking to you as if they’ve known you your whole life but in reality…you have no fucking clue who they are.
What’s your reaction?
No matter if you’re the first type or second, you likely try to back up rapidly, and even say something like, “uh, what the hell dude?”
Because when strangers are in our personal space, telling us things, our reaction isn’t to let them get as close as possible, but to put distance between us because it’s uncomfortable.
Is that a bit of an exagerration? Sure, yeah. It’s not an outside stranger approaching you, getting too close, and making you feel unsafe.
It could be even scarier because instead of someone on the outside you can move and get away from…
There is no escaping yourself.
And with something like this…you may be tempted to try. Because again, we find comfort in the normal, even if that normal is uncomfortable.
Meaning, it can be easier to fall back into old habits when you feel isolated from your very self. The old you is predictable. You’ve lived with that person forever, you know them, the way they think and act and what they like.
This new you will face challenges you’ve never encountered and it will be scary. Fight the urge to divert back to your old habits and thought-patterns. It’s okay to recognize that, “shit…this feels really weird but…in maybe a good way?”
And that’s just one method of handling something like this so you DON’T go backwards—reminding yourself that not all uncomfortable feelings are bad.
I’m not just here to tell you the what. I want to actually help you with the how (which to be honest, is a huge pet peeve whenever I read books/blogs about self-development…I mean I GET IT THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE DONE…but then HOW?!).
It’s not easy. No self-development is easy. If it is, I’m sorry, but you’re doing it wrong.
Here are a few things I do to get through the times where I’ve experienced growth to the level that I feel weird inside my own skin:
One time, I was having a hard time with my identity (mostly because of this very topic on self-development—though I didn’t realize it at the time) and I started feeling like I didn’t know who I was.
So I decided to make a list.
I started with with, “I’m the type of person who…” and then I simply listed all of the real things I have done.
I’m the type of person who…
This is just an example of a few things about my life that truly represent me.
Sometimes, I don’t feel like that person. I still feel like the 17-year-old high schooler who was angry all the time, worked too much, didn’t talk about her feelings, and distanced herself from those trying to get close.
But when I actually write those things out, I recognize the truth of who I am.
If you’re having a hard time, start with something that makes you proud of how far you’ve come. It can be very, very small. When I first started, it was simply, “I’m the type of person who shares my ideas in work meetings” because that was a monumental step for me.
The reason the above exercise works so well is because it forces you out of your head. You get to see who you are with facts, written down on the outside.
Talking to a friend about how you feel about this stuff can do the same thing, especially if you’re an external processor. So ask a friend if they have a minute, mention you’ve been working on yourself (they should already know, because support systems are vital), and tell them what’s on your mind—that you feel like a stranger to yourself because of how you handled a certain situation (or whatever triggered those feelings to bubble to the surface).
Most of the time, they’ll sit there and tell you, “I see you as that new person, you’re not a stranger to me.”
That alone can make a huge difference. It can bring that stranger-you close enough to metaphorically hug.
These feelings are temporary. You won’t always feel like a stranger, and in fact, the amount of times you feel like a stranger to yourself will diminish with time.
The more you grow into the self you want to be, the more you’ll learn to understand this discomfort as growth. You’ll learn to embrace it, and even acknowledge it as a sign you’re getting better.
Self-development is hard. It has growing pains that are unique to each of us as well. This specific one is difficult, because none of us wants to feel like we’re alone inside our own minds. But recognizing it, and learning to understand and cope with it, are a huge part of the self-improvement process.
Ultimately, it will help you take ownership of your life and grow in to bigger and better things.
Go to college to get a good paying job.
My thoughts on all of ^ that? It’s bullshit. It’s toxic, and I’ll explain why below. But this shit is so real for me. Growing up, I wanted to be an actress. I was obsessed with it and would spend hours going over monologues, acting them out in my room, even making up my own stories. And people in my life supported this!… Until high school came around. Because when I was 8 and doing an English accent and waving a stick around like a wand, cursing my annoying older brother, it was cute. But when I was 17 and still refusing to prep for college…suddenly teachers and parents and grandparents were like, “But wait…you can’t do that.” Now, to be fair, I realized after a few years that I would not enjoy acting for real. It’s much different than goofing off in your room in front of a mirror.
You can just have hobbies you enjoy.