The other day, my cousin and I were discussing music and he asked me a question that comes up quite often among Nigerian music lovers. One that centred around two of the biggest artistes in the country and whose music I preferred. I gave my answer. Told him I was more inclined towards the one who had transcended the desire to make hits for the fans and now did music he loved and had grown into. It didn’t matter that he once appealed to the masses too. He had now evolved and his fans would have to come to terms with this evolution.
Of course, both artistes are great; their music talent undeniable, but in my opinion, one had matured. He had come into his full self as a singer and that gave him the x-factor that was still lacking in his colleague.
That’s how I see true growth. It is organic and its scent trails the bearer.
Growth is liberating; it’s something every human should pursue because it rids one of pressure. Stuff that used to bother you are references that elicit a good chuckle. They don’t matter anymore because you are a different person now.
A good way to track your growth is to compare your disposition to issues a while back and at present. An example is the need to please everyone. Many of us need to be liked, we want to be in the good books of everyone and stretch ourselves o damaging limits to make this happen even when we know it is impossible to evoke positive feelings in everybody.
A person who has grown knows they’ll attract genuine affection by just being themselves because an original personality resonates with like minds who are not given to fluff.
As you evolve, you’ll divest yourself of other people’s expectations of you.
Peer pressure is almost non-existent as you learn to sieve advice and do your thing regardless of what others think. Your choices may be somewhat inspired by some external influence, but it will be by people you care about and whose opinion you have learnt to trust.
The things you once gave an on-the-spot reaction to now fail to faze you.
You are more confident in your abilities so criticisms and harsh judgements are less biting. You know there’s always room for improvement; that you are work-in-progress so you channel whatever frustrations you have into being a better version of yourself.
You are not a slave to fashion or trends.
As you admire the exquisite apparels and adornments that litter Instagram, you do not feel compelled to acquire them because it’s not your style or you’re clear-headed enough to acknowledge that your finances should go into more pressing demands. And so you like and move on rather than join the frenzy of ubiquitous “God When” commenters.
Growth means you are not defined by labels: you know that your marital status does not mean you are better or deserve more respect than your single counterparts. You understand the concept of time and chance in the game of life and do not attribute people’s current situation to their final destination. You appreciate people for their intrinsic value as human beings who nurse similar aspirations, fear, and challenges as you and not because they are wealthy, good looking or of a particular tribe.
You may have regrets, but you understand that everything that happens is part of the script of your life.
You learn to let go when you have been hurt. You are comfortable alone knowing that your relevance is not tied to the false security or validation of cliques. You are content to be in your own lane even as you aspire for more.
You recognise the things that really matter: health, family, love, humanity, and exalt them above material things. A significant chunk of your entertainment funds goes into experiences instead of material possessions because you realise that one can never be stolen or denied while the other is subject to deterioration and decay.
This shift that sees a gradual change in your views is inevitable if you place a premium on getting better. As the challenge-laden 2020 comes to a halt, it’s not enough to mouth resolutions that you will abandon two weeks into the new year. You must make a conscious effort to grow; to develop beyond your current state.
And so in 2021, you are there: in your space—content, building quietly, forming the right bonds, learning from others, implementing the lessons learnt, praying, envying no one, giving, loving, sharing knowledge, preparing for exigencies—growing.