…. childrens’ clothes and shoes. If you have children, or have had children, you might easily recall times when all of a sudden pant legs and sleeves are too short, buttons and snaps don’t easily come together, and seemingly overnight, your children have outgrown everything! While I don’t have my own children, as a teacher for many years, I remember seeing students from year to year that I just knew outgrew their clothes and shoes! Oh, how they seemed to SPROUT! What a beautiful thing to witness. On the other hand and simply stated, we can outgrow people, places, and situations too. As adults we may be shifting, growing, learning, with a bit more growth over here, a bit more adjustment over there…. and well, we might find ourselves literally outgrowing people, places, and situations. While necessary, this can feel uncomfortable. I’ve ‘outgrown’ some people and situations recently; have you?
“Don’t let fear or feelings of obligation keep you involved with people you’ve outgrown. What a sad thing it would be to limit your own personal or professional growth for the sake of another. Those meant to grow with us, will be right alongside, growing in their own way. L.A. Gilliam”
Think back to a time when being with someone lost its allure. This person, or people, once seemed to ‘fit’ us. We had things in common, perhaps sharing favorite places or hobbies, or even views on important topics. Now, think back to a time when being friends with someone, or a work situation, or a social / group situation just didn’t ‘fit’ you any longer. Perhaps there were differing opinions that grew over time, and a once-cohesive work environment became untenable to you. Were you able to discover why? Did you even think about it? Did you analyze it? Did you choose to stay, even though you recognized things were just not ‘right’ any longer? Or, did you just move on your way into finding more suitable people and situations, or even a more suitable job/career? Either way, chances are most of us have found ourselves in an ‘outgrowing’ phase throughout certain times in adulthood.
Encouragement may be needed to allow yourself this growth, as moving beyond (or through!) others and/or situations can come with emotional upheaval. Perhaps we feel obligated to stay with someone, or in a work / social situation out of the time and effort, perhaps even emotion, we’ve already invested. Maybe we feel a desire, a longing for ‘what once was’, even though things with a certain person or situation haven’t been healthy or happy for quite some time. This is what I’ll tell you; allow yourself to GROW. If you find yourself in patterns of behavior with certain people that no longer serve your health and happiness, please consider the effort, energy, time, and emotion you dedicate to them. It may be time to adjust your relationship, modify your involvement with them, consider a new job or career, or even let certain people and jobs go completely.
I think it is important to honor your journey; honor your path through the changes and growth that can accompany adulthood. Wouldn’t it be just fantastic if we all had friends and loved ones that moved through all of our life phases at the same rate, arriving at the same place at the same time? Some of us are lucky and fortunate enough to have people in our lives that have been part of our lives for years. We may find that their growth is similar to ours, that perhaps there are differences, but they are at least growing! On the other hand, this is not always the case, as some of us may have lost friendships or romantic relationships over the years because they no longer fit our health and happiness. Perhaps someone who was once a friend seems to just repeat their woes, their chaos, their strife over and over and over, meanwhile we’ve worked hard to put ours behind us, and done it successfully. Work on the acceptance of who they are in their lives, and more importantly, work on the acceptance of your own growth, your own moving forward into THRIVING that has necessitated the modification (or elimination) of certain people. While painful, ultimately choosing to let go of a situation or person no longer part of your growth, no longer matching up with where you are headed, no longer meeting your standards is best. It also creates space for more like-minded people to enter your life and heart!
Now, this is NOT to say that everyone must be with us matching us step for step, every single day, week, month, or year. That is not what I mean, and is unrealistic, creates stress, and unreasonable expectations. What I DO mean to say is that over time, there are likely people who just don’t fit us any longer, and that is okay. A committed friendship, romantic relationship, familial relationship may not always be in alignment, of course. But overall, and over time, I truly believe alignment with others is important. Commitment to others, commitment to our work and careers is important, and can bring such a sense of inner joy, peace, and harmony – when that commitment is healthy, and adds happiness to an already stable and full life. The ‘icing on the cake’, as it were. It is likely these people and these relationships are balanced in growth, ideals, and serve each side of the relationship well.
If you find yourself outgrowing someone, let the process happen organically, without forcing things one way or the other. Unless someone treats you poorly (in which case they may need to be eliminated quickly), there may be a natural course the relationship will take anyway. There is no need to force anything – one way or the other. Growth is painful at times everyone, but will always enhance your life. When we outgrow clothes and shoes, what a blessing it is to be able to donate those things to a worthy cause! While we can’t donate people or our careers necessarily, what we can do is modify our lives to make room for a better FIT. Where are you on your growth journey? Have you outgrown anyone lately? If you have, move through the disappointment and/or hurt, and make way for better matched people to enter your life! As children we outgrew our clothes. As adults, we may indeed outgrow people. Be settled in your heart and allow this process to happen naturally. Best, L.A.