In Difficulties, Aim for Growth, Not Perfection

Embrace & Thrive: Aim for Growth

Yesterday we passed across an area about 5 minutes drive from our place. It was an intersection with a gas station and a few shops nearby. We often pass that area to go to our favourite places like a mall, a cineplex, a supermarket and a few restaurants. After living in this city for about a year, that area has become more than familiar to me. However, that was not the case when I got there for the first time.

A year ago ..

It was a cold, windy evening when I got off the bus almost a year ago. A while before, the unfamiliar neighbourhood I saw from the bus window had indicated that I took the wrong bus. I decided to push the stop button and get off at the next stop. Not used to the cold and wind, my head felt heavy and it would not allow me to think clearly. Where am I? I thought to myself.

I looked around and opened my Google Maps. There were not many people that I knew in this city, except for some people from college. Fear began to creep in as I had no idea where I was. Observing my surrounding, I tried to take a few deep breaths and learned that I had to cross the street.

I think I had walked around a little bit and did not realise I was standing in an entrance area toward a gas station. My mind was too busy trying to make sure I was on the right side of the road as directed by Google Maps, so I could take the right bus and get home safely. I tried to control and maintain my breathing to make sure I did not faint. Suddenly, I heard a honk of a car horn.

I finally managed to cross the road, then waited for the next bus for an amount of time that felt like forever. It was getting dark when the bus arrived, so I kept looking out the window to make sure I got off at the right bus stop and not miss it.

A Shift in Paradigm

I can not help but smile as I remember that experience. It feels funny as I am typing these words. I can remember the sense of crisis I was feeling at that moment. Now that I have become familiar with the neighbourhood, I wish I could tell my old self not to worry.

I realise that what seemed to be unknown territory that terrified me has become a familiar area that is actually not far from home. I was like a small creature feeling lost in a big city. At that time we have not owned a car so it took longer for us to go to places. Now, that ‘large’ territory has become ‘small’. What felt like ‘I did not know where I was’ has become ‘a place not far from home’.

Growing Bigger

This memory made me realise that I had grown bigger. Growth had taken place not in my physical body, but in my perspective, my experience, my knowledge and familiarity with this city where I live.

Moving abroad has taught me a lot of things. Change is good for our wellbeing. It stimulates growth. Change helps our brain rewire in different ways. It forces us to adapt to a new situation. It brought me to a period of transition.

Based on the concept of positive psychology, we all have character strengths that we can develop throughout our lives. If you are not yet familiar with the term, Positive Psychology Center of Penn Arts & Sciences described positive psychology as ‘the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive’.

Growth vs Perfection

The reason why we need to focus on growth instead of seeking perfection is each of us was created as a unique individual with different degrees of character strengths. There are 24 character strengths according to positive psychology. Each of us may have certain strengths highly developed, while others have developed different ones.

In this article, I would like to share with you my process of growth.

Spirituality, Hope, Gratitude

In the 24 character strengths, spirituality, hope and gratitude are under the same category: ‘Transcendence’. Each of these 3 also interlink with one another. I choose to talk about these strengths because I put spiritual growth as my top priority. I don’t use the categories of character strengths in my personal goal setting, by the way. Instead, I just put all faith-related factors under one umbrella ‘spirituality’. To me, this is the most important one.

First: A Breakthrough

After experiencing emotional challenges in the past, it was in my encounter with Jesus Christ, my Saviour, that I found a breakthrough. I finally found healing in my relationship with Him. It did not happen overnight, but since then, God began to restore every aspect of my life.

I still get anxious from time to time. What happened when I took the wrong bus was one of the times when I become alert of my experience in the past, but I just try to embrace it and celebrate every moment of victory. That is, I may not be perfect, I may not be that ‘adventurous girl’ who is ready to explore the world fearlessly, but here I am, in a new place, in a new country. I am independent enough to go where I need to go by myself. I believe I can do so much more when the time comes.

Where We Can Find Hope & a Sense of Gratitude

It’s essential to be aware that there is a Higher Being and we are just His creature. My faith in Him has given me direction and purpose. Everything began to make sense. There, I found hope. Things are not always easy, but I just keep going. Sometimes all we need to do is keep going and reach out His hand anytime we need. Our hope will not lead to disappointment, for He is a faithful God and He loves us so much. We can be assured of that.

I feel so grateful and blessed with this opportunity to start a new life. At a point in my life, I buried my dream to live outside my country, something I had been dreaming for years. Yet, here I am now. I am grateful for my marriage, for my partner, without whom I may never realise that dream. We’ll just never know. Things happen when we least expect them. Not only ‘the bad ones’ but also life’s sweetest surprises. Even in ‘the bad ones’, we can always learn something.

What I have achieved this far, however, is not by my own strength. Everything is by His grace only. He is the One who has planted a seed and cultivated growth within me. I still have a lot to learn. It’s not always easy to surrender completely to His sovereignty, but He is the mighty God who controls everything. He will bring goodness into your life. Lean on Him. Rely on Him. He will bring you through things you can’t manage yourself. That’s what I believe.

How about you? Have you ever experienced a difficult situation that has forced you to change from the inside? What are your most developed strengths after going through it all? Is it courage? Persistence? Love? Please do share your story in the comments.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Summary
In Difficulties, Aim for Growth, Not Perfection
Article Name
In Difficulties, Aim for Growth, Not Perfection
Description
Focus on growth instead of seeking perfection because each of us was created as a unique individual with different degrees of character strengths. We can find ways to develop these strengths throughout our lives.
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Embrace & Thrive

3 thoughts on “In Difficulties, Aim for Growth, Not Perfection”

  1. I like your sentence: “Change is good for our wellbeing. It stimulates growth. Change helps our brain rewire in different ways. It forces us to adapt to a new situation.”
    Yes, I have ever experienced a difficult situation that had forced me to change from the inside. Before the experience happened, I usually too focused on doing something that I didn’t see others’ matters. I realized the changes when I heard a friend told me that in a way I have changed. Later on I see my self become more flexible to accept others’ ways of work. My friends see me as a more friendly woman and not too serious in doing something. I listen more too.
    I believe that God had meant something good for me through difficult times. He wants to shape me to be a better one. To God be all the glory.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, sis Meidi. We all can learn from your example. It’s never too late to change. It may not be easy at first but once we are accustomed to the new habit, others will notice and it will bring good for everyone, including ourselves 🙂

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