Have you met yourself lately? If not, let me introduce you to…YOU! If you haven’t encountered a surprising aspect of yourself lately, maybe you needed that re-introduction.
Do you remember the famous song from the band The Who. (an oldie but a goodie!)
“Whoooo are you? Who-Who…Who..Who??” Research on human developmen indicates you could ask yourself that every day and still never get a complete answer! Why? Because we grow. Our brain parts that determine personality and behavior grow (ergo change).
Today I realize I am meeting myself …again…for the first time! Has this ever happened to you?
Just when I thought I knew my likes and strengths and pitfalls and methods and quirks…all by heart…I realize I’ve done it again.
I’ve gone and….ADAPTED! Human theorists like Erik Erikson and Jean Piaget say when we are born (humans, I mean) we begin to go through different phases of development. And, this continues FOR THE REST OF OUR LIFE!
Of all the ways to explain how we progress through various phases, one constant is that to successfully pass through a phase of development, one has to feel challenged, and then find a way to balance the tension between social demands and our own desires, and go on.
When you do that, voilà! (imagine a dramatic flip of the magician’s cape here) you have grown stronger, smarter and probably better-looking. (just kidding about the last part, but maybe it’s true!)
Whether you agree with evolution or not, there is pretty solid evidence that all species (no matter how we came into being) continue to adapt to their environment, based on what keeps them alive. I was surprised to find that this includes humans!
Returning to school to get my Master’s after a long avoidance …er I mean absence from University campuses, allows me to compare who I was back when I received my Undergraduate degrees and who I am now. What a difference!
I see my brain has adapted to life and environment…dropping unnecessary or nonfunctioning parts…the natural selection process at work! In my classes they call the process ‘synaptic pruning’, or the brain’s way of getting rid of pathways that don’t serve the body or mind as an organism anymore, and instead focusing energy on growth of the more important synapses…or brain pathways.
Now, I think of my professors as peers, rather than towering giants of intellectual superiority. In fact, I am older than some of my professors! Also, I get excited to participate in class discussions instead of embarrassed (or even catatonic). Lastly, one of the biggest differences is that back then I was a kid. Now I’m raising kids, and helping others raise kids too. Again, what a difference!
In truth, I am not special. Everyone is constantly changing and evolving. Even a person who looks to be completely stagnant, or ‘stuck’ as you may call them, they are changing! How could they not, we are with every breath, closer to death or closer to aliveness. The key is to be able to meet yourself wherever you are. Meet yourself and be present with what you encounter. You may not look perfect, but presence may be a more important goal than perfect.
Can you do that? Can you love whoever you turn out to be? Yes. You must!