Are You Suffering from Growing Pain?
Intense people are fast-growing creatures.
It is in your nature to rapidly outgrow people, things, and places.
Sometimes, you wish you were more easily content.
When you feel compelled to initiate a change — a breakup, a resignation, a relocation — it almost always feels like your only choice.
Even your mind knows it is the right path, you experience a myriad complex emotions.
Your excitement might be shielded by anxiety, grief, guilt and loneliness.
But what would you prefer? To look back at your life and realize you have wasted time in a career, relationship or process that has expired? Or would you rather know that you had always left at the right time, even when it was momentarily disconcerting?
Sometimes, you have to embark on paths that bring about tremendous guilt.
You feel as though you have betrayed, left behind, abandoned your family and friends.
But what would you prefer? To betray your truth for false loyalty, trading your authenticity for group harmony? Can you really feel you belong when you cannot be yourself? When a relationship feels like a trap, is it true love or symbiosis?
As a truth-seeker, a multipotentialite, a fierce lover, and a borderless world citizen, your existence itself is a challenge to those around you.
“You have changed,” say your friends. You feel guilt-tripped, but you must know that the pain of shedding what you have outgrown is more honorable to bear than the resentment from being held back.
“Your choices do not make any sense,” say your parents. You feel criticized and judged, but we must penetrate their words to the truth behind. They are confined not just by a limited worldview, but profound anxiety over what happens to you. Their invalidation is a clumsy expression of love, though sadly it leaves you feeling betrayed and isolated.
And then, of course, there are the costs of experimentation.
As an optimizer, you push limits and test boundaries. You cannot help but know what is lacking, and envision the ideal. You strive to be the change you wish to see. Sometimes, you experience a painful push-back. You feel disappointed and disheartened, but it does not mean you are not on the right path.
“I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb.” This is a line attributed to Thomas Edison. Your path is made up of a series of experimentations, though to the untrained eyes it looks like ruthlessness or impulsivity. This is how light bulbs get invented and how revolutions start.
I know this is not an easy path; it is precarious, lonely, and at times, despairing.
But this is your path.
If for you growth is more important than comfort,
if you couldn’t help but always see the bigger picture,
if you feel trapped easily,
if you are inspired by beauty and justice,
if you are a truth-seeker and couldn’t stand hypocrisy,
then I am afraid growing pain is a part of your path.
Just because it is called pain doesn’t mean it is bad.
Within this unique species of pain comes excitement, adventures, and at times, ecstasy.
The world does not need you to slow down or be silent.
It is not your job to make everyone comfortable.
Rather than trying to negate growing pain, embrace it.
Remind yourself that your grief, guilt and fear are symptoms of growth.
Be proud of your accelerated path.
You will always be in transition, but you will learn to dance in the flux. It is your natural habitat.
The mountain top is for souls courageous enough to take the steps.
Imi Lo is a psychotherapist, art therapist, coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity. Her mission is to inspire intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the ‘misfits’ to being the leaders of the world. Leaving home at a young age, Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. She has been a suicide counselor, social worker, artist, mindfulness teacher, Yoga instructor, holistic healer, art therapist, psychotherapy trainer, and lecturer. She has also enjoyed an art model career, during which she toured around the world. Her work reflects her passion for the emotional and existential themes that connect people. She founded Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people around the world. She also owns over a thousand Japanese comics, and eats broccoli every day.