In the fourth grade, our “big” science project was to watch a seed grow through the transparency of a plastic bag with the help of a paper towel. For weeks, we would enter our classroom to check on our budding seeds, only to see that, for the most part, the seeds were unchanged. Twenty-six impatient nine year olds stared at their seeds, wondering if anything would happen.
Frustrated, we assumed this science project was a dud. Then suddenly and without warning, one day we walked into the classroom to see our seeds finally sprout. Some sprouts were bigger, some sprouts were wider, and some seeds were still waiting to sprout. Even though we all used the same technique, everything grew at a different rate. But, by the end of the year, all twenty-six of us grew a plant from a simple seed.
Life is much like the seeds planted many years ago. With a little nourishment and some healthy Vitamin D, we too grow. It doesn’t happen over night, and the changes are so subtle that you don’t notice it right away. It’s happening internally, encased in the safety of a shell, until it’s ready to show the world its true colors. Our growth isn't measurable like the seeds; instead, it's measurable in how we treat others, ourselves, and conduct ourselves in the world.
As we grow, here are ten things we should learn.
- The way you treat people in the service industry is a reflection of you, not them. Calling someone a “pig”, snapping your fingers to get attention, dismissing a waiter/waitress when they approach your table is an indication of your own insecurities. It’s important in life to treat everyone with respect; you never know someone else’s story.
- You cannot crowd source your self-confidence through social media likes. There’s this old joke about how people sign up for “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise just to start getting Instagram sponsorships. And, while I have certainly purchased a “Fit Tea” at least once in my life, the truth is, social media likes are not going to make you happier. Your life is not going to become more enriched and in the end, whatever void you’re looking to fill by trying to fit into a certain “norm” will still be empty.
- Ignorance is led by comments, such as, “I don’t see color”, or, "I wouldn't do that". We are currently living through an important movement in our social structure. It’s imperative during this time to support change with open and honest conversations, especially when it's uncomfortable. Be a part of making the world a better place by understanding the systematic structure of racism. Understand that sexual harassment can impact both males and females. Think of what you're saying when you objectify someone simply on their looks. These movements exist and change is on the horizon; support it.
- Love yourself first, deeply and without hesitation; it’ll make the rest of your relationships stronger.
- Friendships will evolve and grow. As we get older, our lives become more and more busy. We take on new and challenging roles, professionally and personally. True friendships will endure life changes. In those moments where you miss a friend, reach out- I bet they’re thinking of you, too.
- Altruism is strength, not weakness. It’s easy to feel “taken advantage of” or “hurt” when you are a selfless person, but changing who you are at your core doesn’t help anyone. The world needs more people to let their walls down- it’s the only way to change the ugly.
- Gossip isn’t “juicy”; it’s hurtful. Sure, it’s nice to feel like you’re “in” on a situation, but imagine being the person who you’re talking about. Do you like when people gossip about you? Probably not, so try not to gossip about others. Conversations are much more fun and insightful without hurting other people.
- It’s okay to be alone. Stay home, enjoy your favorite movie, do a charcoal facemask and relax. Being alone is the beginning of self-discovery.
- You don’t know everything. Possibly the worst characteristic of a “millennial” today is that we think we know everything. If you are one of those people who must interject your two cents into every situation, I challenge and empower you to think the next time you speak. You’re better off in life not knowing everything. After all, learning is the best part of living. Absorb knowledge from wherever you can. Enrichment is far more valuable than “knowing everything.”
- Share in other people’s happiness. Like seeds, we are all going to grow at different rates. We are all going to find “success” at different times. We are also going to define “success” differently. Understanding that will allow you to genuinely celebrate in others happiness. One day, the favor will be returned.