As the DIS-ORDER team we have been pondering a lot recently. We have been discussing growth and what it means to us, so that we could come up with a collection that truly puts our hearts on our sleeves. As we approach the drop of our newest collection, I would like to discuss some attributes of growth. What it is about, what it entails, and a small book review on Mindsets.
I would like to talk about the discomfort, patience, consistency, and introspection that must come with growing. After months of deliberation on the meaning, the implications, the outcomes, it seems as though a fundamental part of the process is pain. There is a reason we speak of the joint aches and the stretch marks that come with it. There is a reason it is called growing pains. We must experience adversity, loss, or discomfort to grow. It must come in succession of a challenge. This collection aims to serve as a reminder of its multifaceted nature. Each of the three designs focuses on a different element of growth.
‘The Rings of Growth’ design reminds us of our growth in the face of difficulties. Though it may not always feel like it, in your darker moments you are still growing. Like the rings in a tree, your process of growth is unique to you by your history and the seasons of your past. Take these rings as a reminder that you grow through what you go through. ‘Real Growth Takes Time’ draws attention to the necessity of perseverance to achieve growth. A sapling doesn't become a great oak overnight. Real growth requires patience and consistency. Self compassion is key to weathering storms and overcoming frustration. ‘The Maze of Growth’ is an ode to being a rolling stone. To choose movement when you are stuck. The choice to grow through life's challenges is yours. Much like a maze, even if you reach a dead end the key is to keep moving. Remember that adversity breeds growth.
I asked my nine [and three quarters] year old sister what growth means to her. “Well” she said as matter of factly as any adult would “I don’t fit in my ladybug costume anymore…” and promptly returned her attention to her steak sandwich. Whilst the growth she experiences is not exactly an elective -she will get taller no matter what she does- the adult versions of growth are a bit more reliant on effort and initiative. Oftentimes we have to force ourselves to grow out of habits, people, or places. Or if we have naturally grown out of them, we have to force ourselves to take action to move away from what is already established in routine. It takes a lot more self discipline and motivation to achieve growth as an adult.
Although I don't think my sister intended to impart such wisdom, I found what she said incredibly pertinent. There are parts of ourselves we grow out of, costumes we can no longer wear; that we have to leave behind in order to grow. A friend of mine recently put it as having to kill the parts of you that no longer serve who you want to become in order to make space for the new you. Perhaps viewing it as a killing is slightly too severe and you prefer to say that you are folding up the ladybug costume and putting it away, to serve as a reminder of good times gone. Perhaps “killing” is exactly the right metaphor to help sever your connection to habits and experiences that are destructive in order to move on. Either way, an essential and unavoidable part of growing up is growing out. Allow yourself to grow out of what no longer serves you and look toward fitting into new and exciting things.
Growth comes with grief. Grieving the parts of yourself you must leave behind, sure. Yet it also comes with a realisation that you can be more, but that you have been less. You grieve the person you could have been or the time you may have lost. But where you cut your losses you start to make gains. Instead of choosing to dwell on time not optimally spent, choose to look at how to turn things around now.
There is merit to discomfort. Whatever type of growth you may look to, you will see that challenge teaches. If you are a gym rat, you know that the soreness in your muscles is an attribute of a good session. If you decide you will travel the world, you will have to get comfortable with living out of a bag. If you want a healthier lifestyle, you will have to do your homework on nutrients, sleep schedules, mindfulness, and exercise. Harder still, you will have to execute these behavioural changes. If you realise that you are surrounded by stagnant people, or people who do not desire the best for you, you will have to make the difficult choice of removing these people from your life. There is a saying that misery loves company; so does stagnation. Perhaps as you grow, you can help pull the people who matter to you out of their static state too. Whatever these discomforts manifest as, in order to grow you cannot take the path of least resistance. Think of the butterfly, it would not have built the strength to fly had it not beat its wings against the cocoon it broke out of. Embrace your metamorphosis in all of its stages. Even the painful ones.
Mindset - a book review in progress
In a previous issue [Nr. V: Resolutions and Resolutionaries] I discussed people with growth mindsets as opposed to fixed. This discussion was mostly inspired by a book recommended by a fellow DIS-ORDER colleague [Hi Stijn!]. “Mindset” by Dr. Carol S. Dweck is perhaps one of the only self help books that I’ve enjoyed. Whilst I usually cringe and sometimes audibly dry heave at the seemingly endless regurgitations of pop-psychologists recommending daily 2 hour gym sessions and rigorous 4am starts as the secret to success, this book breaks down your innermost workings to recalibrate your self perception.
It stipulates that “innate capacity” is not inherent and talent is only a small part of success. Intelligence, confidence, athletic capability etc. are all attributes that can be developed upon. That failing is a part of growth and failing does not equal being a failure. The book is all about the distinction between growth and fixed mindsets. Someone with a growth mindset views personal attributes as improvable whilst someone with a fixed mindset views them as set in stone. A fixed mindset is often discouraging and operates in absolutes, a growth mindset enjoys a challenge and is the epitome of “fall three times; get up four”.
It follows a Bible-like structure and is divided into eight independent chapters. The book, once read over, could be picked up on any section as a refresher with no necessity for a cover to cover recap. The sections are also distinct in personal relevance of content. While four of the chapters are universally applicable -they serve as introductions, applications, and explanations of the mindsets- the other four pertain to specific areas of life -sports, business, relationships, and parenthood-. This may make you think that half of the book is not relevant to you, thus is not worth the read. Whilst this may be true, I find that it makes the book more approachable. I will read a section as it pertains to my life at that time. In its ever so bible-like structure I can go back to my favourite bits of wisdom as needed.
This is a book review in progress in that I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Sports or business have never been a particular interest of mine. But I have thoroughly enjoyed the sections I have read. Written in a digestible and accessible tone, Dweck presents complex knowledge in layman's terms. She is not trying to challenge you in your capacity to decipher turn of phrase, instead she focuses on challenging you in your self beliefs. It is an undeniably confronting book. I personally was not aware of the extent of my limiting beliefs and the depth of my fixed mindset. This is not to say that I am suddenly enlightened and freed from the shackles of my own mindset. It is an ongoing process. It is a good example of the necessity to become comfortable with your own discomfort.
As I was washing the dishes this evening I had a realisation. Your mindset can vary between disciplines. For most of my life, maths was the enemy. So as I read Dweck’s work, I immediately thought about my fixed mindset toward topics I never had an interest or aptitude in such as mathematics. But when I think of linguistics, I found that I have always gravitated toward the language I find more challenging when it comes to my bilingual background -which is a behaviour inherently within the growth mindset-. I think that most of us experience the fixed or growth mindset as a spectrum as it pertains to different arenas or our lives. Of course, the fixed mindset permeates through these different arenas. I once had the thought, after reading a particularly moving bit of poetry -it was Robert Frost-, that I should never even try at writing when something so beautiful exists; that I could never compete. I find the ridiculousness and angst of that statement laughable now. But I remember how true it rang when I originally had the thought. How hopeless it made me feel. That had been the permeation of a fixed mindset into the arena of my life where I had the predisposition to grow.
I have had the realisation that although not quite yet a mighty oak, the seeds of a growth mindset reside in me. I would be willing to bet those same seeds, at the very least, reside in just about everybody else too.