I’m under construction, or at least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself during this period of self-growth. Being temporarily unemployed means I have time to do all the things I was once “too busy” for (i.e. self-improvement).
I’ve realized that this self-work, soul-work, or whatever you want to call it, is a lot like construction. My hometown is currently riddled with construction and has been for months. Roads that once acted as primary pathways to local businesses located both uptown and downtown are temporarily closed as new routes are being carved into our little city of roughly 960 people. The main bridge that acted as a connector between the town and the closest major highway has been demolished to make room for a new, sturdier bridge. With only one grocery store, one plaza, one stoplight, and one post office, people are pretty disgruntled by not only the chaos, but the time it’s taking.
As humans, we crave some kind of consistency. Routine creates structure and structure creates an illusion of security in our lives. When that consistency becomes interrupted by external sources, however, we get thrown off balance.
This has been the case for me lately, not just in my phase of unemployment, but in my dad becoming fatally ill. I’m so off balance and insecure. Everything is different, and I’m constantly participating in contemplative practices like yoga and meditation in order to build something peaceful within myself. Daily, I lay my thoughts and innermost fears down on paper so that I don’t break.
It’s really not that much different from the construction in my hometown.
Self-growth, much like construction, is a process. It’s a gradual development into something new, something better, sturdier, and withstanding. I fully believe that we, as humans, have all the pieces we need to support ourselves already within our being. I also believe that we have the capacity to use those pieces effectively to further ourselves in self-growth and self-actualization. Sometimes, though, certain foundations need to be laid before a solid structure can be built.
A construction worker wouldn’t begin building a house upon a faulty infrastructure, so why do we lay broken pieces of ourselves down and then expect our goals and dreams to prosper? Why aren’t we more diligent with our pieces?
Maybe it’s that we are unwilling or too scared to take the painful, albeit necessary, detour down a new road. Maybe we don’t want to stop at the stoplight because pausing means thinking about our fears and being vulnerable with ourselves. Maybe we just don’t want to do it alone.
I think for a while, I was afraid of all these things too. I was afraid of what I’d “find” inside of myself. I was afraid that my pieces were too broken. But instead of taking the quick-fix route, I decided enough was enough, and I started at the core of my being, at my foundation.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered:
1. Our foundations may be fractured, but they’re definitely not broken. They are not beyond repair. They’re ours, which means we have the tools we need to fix them. We just have to be willing to take the time, and endure the construction process in order to yield the best results.
2. Always be vulnerable with yourself because you can trust yourself the most. Being vulnerable is frightening, it’s like the bare bones skeleton of a new house or structure. But that structure, our structure, was built to endure storms and adversity. We came into this world vulnerable, our personalities just developed security blankets along the way in order to shield us from pain. Don’t shield. The more you do, the harder it will be to find the fractured piece and fix it. Shed your protection, and talk with yourself honestly. What’s stopping you from moving forward? Where is your emotional block? Find it, work at it, and move forward.
3. Everything you need is in this moment. The amazing thing about today is that it’s today, and you can always start over. Yesterday is forever forgiven.
4. Progress isn’t always instant. It’s arduous and time consuming, but the gratification you will find over time will be invaluable (much like the new, sturdy bridge coming soon to my hometown). You are far more capable than you currently believe. You just have to give yourself a chance.
5. You don’t have to go through it alone. Construction work is a team effort, and so is maneuvering through life. Keep your heart open, and your tribe will find you. Let them support you. They want to, I promise.
I realize that self-work can be overwhelming, but it’s what helps us reach our potential. Someday my town will be anew, and people will barely remember the time of hardship and detours, traffic, and single lane roads. Because construction makes things new, and starting self-construction makes you stronger. I promise that this journey is so worth it.
Gabby Bradshaw is an AmeriCorps Alum who lives in Northwestern PA. Her passions include practicing yoga, writing, and spending time at the ocean. She aspires to become a yoga instructor and work in criminal justice reform someday.