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  • Writer's pictureMagali Jeger

Growing Pains

It’s a new year so the perfect time to reflect (read: to feel blue). These past few months I went through some huge changes in my life. Decisions I had to face, choices I had to make, and the infite pondering over whether I chose the right path. My head says yes, but my heart screams songs of sadness, discomfort, and loneliness.

What changed?

End of last year I moved countries, to a city that I know but never lived in. I started a new job, one that whispers: “imposter, imposter” each time I look in the mirror. I moved into a new flat, with people who I’m still getting to know. Said goodbye to some friends along the way (we still talk, but FaceTime is a bi...), and one more definite goodbye. Bigger than I've ever known. A goodbye that truly took away a piece of my old self. It’s tough.

Why is it tough?

Tough is actually not the right word: it’s terrifying, uncomfortable, lonely, and awfully painful at times. Why did I leave my old life behind? Why did I decide to change every single thing about my existence in the span of three period cycles. The answer I give is simple: “I am investing in my future self. Therefore, I moved to a city where I am closer to family, started a job where I know I am able to grow, found a place to live where my past self would’ve loved to be…” So why do I feel so much pain?

What do experts say?

"Nothing is irreversible, change takes time, it is okay to feel uncomfortable…” These are sentences I’ve heard countless times in the past few months. And I know them to be true. The person we thought we were is now changing, and we have to do some mental adjustment to accommodate this new view of ourselves. Thus the term: Psychological Growing Pains.

Remember when you were a kid and would complain about your knees hurting or your back hurting for no apparent reason? They would feel achy and sore for what seemed like days. And when you complained to your mother about the pain, she would say, “It’s just growing pains.” Just as physical growth causes physical discomfort, psychological growth can cause psychological discomfort. The stress and strain caused by thinking about things in new and foreign ways can create a cognitive dissonance where your long-held perspectives are challenged by alternative views and ideas. - Dr. Berney, licensed psychologist

How to cope?

Journaling, meditation, exercise… those are the easy answers. But the truth to the matter is that the best healer is time. That can be frustrating to an impulsive person like myself, because to me time feels like an enemy, not a friend. But it is my friend. In fact right now, it’s my bestest of friends. In a world where I don’t feel at home, time seems to be the only thing I can hold onto.

The best advice I ever received:

The advice that people give offers some comfort, but doesn’t help ease the worries. What do they know, after all? They might be wrong. But years ago, during one of one of my Psychological Growing Pain periods, one of these people gave me a piece of advice. Back then it didn’t mean much (again, what do they know?). But looking back, I see how valuable this little thought was. They said: “Will your worries still matter a year from now?”

And the answer is:

No. Probably not. I will have new things to worry about, new pains to take care of. Looking back at the worries I had back then, it seemed like I was making a mountain out of a molehill. This, of course, depends on the magnitute of your situation. But in most cases, this small thought is relevant and true. I smile at my younger self who was so preoccupied with climbing over that enormous mountain. It now seems so... insignificant.

So I will give myself a year to grow. Because only time will tell. Truly. I hate clichés but they exist for a reason. Eventually my discomfort and unknown surroundings will become my new comfort zone, the old pains will seem like molehills, and I will hopefully grow to be a few centimeters taller.

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Jan 10, 2023


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