Growth Is Slow

Phoebe surrounded by plants

“Where are you being called to go from here?”, the final prompt of our blog posts, an indication that my time in Syracuse is reaching its end. I see this question and wish I could write the response on a single line, as if filling out a registration form, selecting from a dropdown menu of occupations. Eleven months ago I would’ve selected “Physician”, today I would select “Other”. I’m taken back to the days when I’d be asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – the answer quick and certain and confident. Today my short single answer is less clear and more convoluted than it once was. I do hold confidence, however, in the values that I’ve honed in on in the last year.

I am called to be kinder, to pause in situations which leave me frustrated. I am called to consider the experiences of the other person. I am called to continue pursuing meaningful work, to afford myself the emotional freedom to be nudged to new things and opportunities that hold deeper meaning and bring me joy. I am called to share my experience working with refugees, what meaningful moments I’ve had and what parts of the system need to be done better. I’m called to lean into my uncomfortable zone, to acknowledge that discomfort is what you feel when you’re on the edge of growth.

As I write this blog post, some concepts come to mind. Hear me out (or just skip this paragraph if science bores you). I find velocity vs. time graphs interesting – the kind of graphs they drill you on in your high school physics class. Data points taken and slapped onto a graph. On a velocity vs. time graph, the slope gives you more information about its derivative, the acceleration. Not only is velocity increasing or decreasing, acceleration could be increasing or decreasing – it could even be zero. My favorites were the ones that really made you think: positive velocities with negative accelerations, negative velocities with positive accelerations. I always thought it was cool, it almost felt like a paradox, that you could have a negative velocity with positive acceleration even if it doesn’t look like it. Moving in one direction but slowing down or speeding up. There is more to an object’s story than what you initially see on the graph. Put it in context. Consider the slope.

This whole year I’ve been recording these mental data points: what activities I gravitate towards when I have free time, what issues I find myself advocating for, what kind of cuisine I’d like to explore, what form of prayer resonates with me, how do certain news topics make me feel, what roles I play in my community and worksite, how engaged am I with current events and media, what topics make me freeze, who I want to surround myself with. Data points recorded and slapped onto sheets of mental graph paper. The challenge now to read between the lines, consider the slope, interpret its meaning and put it into the context that is my life. And maybe, those results may translate into something resembling a next step, the next nudge.

I am called to live with intention, remaining cognizant of the impact my words and actions have on other people. I am called to remain connected, to my friends and family who support me, and

to the current issues of the world. I’m called to continue asking deeper questions – the ones that challenge my perspective, call me to deeper understanding, shape my worldview, and refine who I am. As I’ve learned this year, these things don’t happen overnight. Growth is slow, subtle. I may not know where I’ll be in a year, but I’m confident that no matter where I am, I will bloom where I am planted.

Categories: General

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