Column: A summer of thinking


Photo credit: Marissa Gendy

I took this photo while walking on one of the many bridges in Zurich, Switzerland at the beginning of August. I feel that this photo represents the state of peace we feel when embracing the process of reflection.

By Marissa Gendy, Columnist

Our understanding of the beauty of life comes from our understanding of life itself. When life seems too big or far too overwhelming, we regain our balance through the acknowledgment of the little things. A breath, a flower petal or a grain of sand all make up a whole, each part as important as the next. Happiness, pain and growth are the little things that make up the human.

As humans, we are taught that kindness is the cure to hate and that love is the solution to war. But we begin to lose sight of love and kindness when we undermine our own needs, further limiting our own happiness. That in a moment, we are less important than a friend’s opinion of us. That in a situation, putting ourselves first is selfish or wrong. That sometimes our own happiness is not worth the cost of losing a friend or a loved one. We have the deadly ability to use the satisfaction and acceptance of others as a way of measuring our own happiness.

But life isn’t about making others happy at the expense of yourself; it’s about using the gifts that we have been blessed with in a healthy manner and with the intention of kindness. Giving back to others in a way that doesn’t mean taking from ourselves. As multifaceted people, we each have our own set of instructions and boundaries. Who better to advocate for these instructions and boundaries than the person themself? 

The one part of hurting that most people leave out is the good kind of hurt. The kind your soul welcomes because the consequence is growth and progress, the kind that makes sense, the kind that reminds you, you are human, one with goals, aspirations, thoughts and emotions. The pain that reminds you to keep going, that teaches you a little bit more about yourself.  Hurting means different things to different people, but, at the end of the day, the one commonality we all share is our ability to be hurt.

Carrying over the observations and conclusions I made in the summer, I have begun developing a new relationship to growth.  The misconceptions surrounding growth circulate social media and current conversations with no regard for the truth. The truth being that it is okay to grow at a different pace than those around you. It is okay to outgrow people. It is okay to grow into a whole different person. It is okay to feel as though you are not growing. It is okay to develop a positive relationship with growth. However, it is not okay to compare yourself to the growth of others. It is not okay to doubt your perfection when a process of growth begins. And it is absolutely not okay to let others dictate how you begin, continue or end your process of growth.

No one yells, hurts or kills a plant that slowly grows. They take the time to water and create a specific environment for the plant to sustain life. Why should we treat ourselves any differently?

I urge all to remember that without the breath, the flower petal or the grain of sand, the whole is lost. Without our willingness to prioritize ourselves, acknowledge our pain and grow as people on our own specific journey, we lose the whole: our mind and soul.