Personal Growth

Shedding Old Dreams and Lives

Liked It’s Okay to Outgrow the Life You Thought You Wanted by Rainesford Stauffer (Medium)

Growing out of things is spun as a given: Old clothes that no longer fit or feel like you, jobs or schools, phases of life, living situations, habits. Growth is part of the plan, the part those of us lucky enough to get to grow up, and continue growing, go through.
That doesn’t mean parts of growth aren’t brutal, and complicated. While the obvious versions of growth — new phases, new moves, new beginnings — get a lot of airtime, what pops up less often is the inverse: What happens when you step into the life you’ve worked for, and realize it no longer feels as fulfilling as you imagined it would?

Outgrowing came in all different versions: Perfect-on-paper relationships left. Graduate programs stopped in the middle. Moves made to return somewhere someone never thought they’d end up, or to escape a place they never imagined leaving. Side hustle plans left undone. None of these things — contrary to the common narrative — were giving up, or giving in, or abandoning wildest dreams. They were changing dreams; they were growth, a sort I rarely heard talked about openly.

[R]enegotiating what we want with ourselves shouldn’t be an inherent taboo, a signal that we’ve ventured off track or away from the plan.

Things ending doesn’t mean they were a failure all through.

Admitting something comfortable or hard earned isn’t working is challenging but valuable. Comes back to learning to listen to yourself.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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