The phrase "growing pains" typically refers to child experiencing pain as they grow bigger and stronger. As far as I know, I never felt this type of growing pain. However, I've experienced growing pains in another sense, and it definitely did not stop by the time I was a teenager. In fact, these growing pains do not have an expiration date. I am talking about the growing pains of life. The pain of rejection, of love lost, of invalidation, of self-discovery, of big regrets. These are all growing pains that everyone goes through at some point in our lives. Some may experience worse situations and worse pains than others, but nonetheless, everyone experiences a challenge that shapes who they are and who they become. As a woman in my early twenties, I believe I have critical growing pains. It's the time of self-discovery, newfound independence, a taste of responsibility, and confusion. Lots and lots of confusion. It's also a weird stage where society has these expectations of you, but at the same time invalidate your choices and opinions. "You don't know anything about the world yet" I know that I haven't experienced life for as long as many others, but no one has experienced life the way I have. I have a unique perspective--so does everyone else. It baffles me that people can be so closed off to learning new perspectives, but that seems to be the root of all human conflict. In any case, I am getting side-tracked. (That is simply going to happen for my posts, because I am writing to further understand and connect to myself. I sit down and whatever flows, flows) I have lots of growing pains, especially within the last two years. I face the challenge of bettering myself and becoming stronger. They always say things like everything happens for a reason, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I have to believe in these or I don't think I would be able to face my current challenge. Self-acceptance. Self-love. Self-worth. Self-sufficiency. The biggest struggle in achieving these goals is figuring out how. How does one get there? I'm in the process of trial and error. I have to change my behaviors to get there too, and old habits die hard. Temptations are everywhere, and I'm amazing at convincing myself I can indulge, consequence free. The next biggest struggle is to keep myself from losing hope and motivation. I cannot let the past define my future. My past pains need to push me to grow, not wither. I need to focus in on my progress. Love Life: I consistently choose better partners after the last one. However, I acknowledge that sex and love is not an option for me. My past partners may get increasingly better, but that does not make them healthy. I still struggle to find myself lovable and to trust a person will stay. I haven't been alone--actually alone--since I was 15. Why do I need someone to love me? The answer is because I don't love myself enough. It's painful to admit and it's painful to experience all those heartbreaks and abuse. However, what was all of that for if I refuse to grow from it? Mental Health: My growing pains have always revolved around my mental health. My emotional reactivity and intensity has been high. I always struggled to learn emotional regulation. Generalized anxiety disorder and depression and god knows what else has been thrown at me. About a year ago, I reached a point where I wanted to die. I am thankful for that. If I hadn't gone through that, I wouldn't be in the therapy program I am now. I wouldn't be gaining skills that I need. Quite honestly, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be trying to grow through my pain. People may not always see my progress, but I am learning to let that go. I see my progress. I see myself learning to cope. It's a long process and not everyone is going to be patient enough to see me bloom. Of course, that doesn't help me see myself as worthy or lovable. However, it filters out all the people that aren't worthy of my love, my support, and my affection. So, I am not the only person losing something there. And what am I really losing? Certianly not a true friend. But they are. They are losing me. Growing is painful and it is not linear. Growing is mentally and phsyically straining. Growing is something I need to do myself. Self-growth relies on me sowing the seeds. It relies on me providing the water and the sunshine. I am not saying it is something I need to do completely alone. I am saying that only I can control how I grow. I am the only person responsible for my progress and happiness. It's my biggest challenge yet. But somehow, I am going to do it. I have to.