The Privilege and Promise of Growing Pains


When I was in middle school, I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night on more than one occasion with sharp pains coursing from my hips to my ankles. I didn’t understand what could possibly be causing such an unpleasant sensation, and when I asked my mother, she told me that these were growing pains. At the time, my growing pains would subside after a couple of ibuprofen and a mug of chamomile tea, but as an adult, the treatment isn’t quite as straightforward.

In order to be the best versions of ourselves, we should constantly be learning, changing, and growing. We should never become complacent, and we should always strive for greatness. Furthermore, no matter how much we grow, there is always room for improvement.

That all sounds well and good, in a Hallmark sort of way. While “growing” has many positive connotations and outcomes, we often forget that it can be uncomfortable and even painful at times. Growing can be both welcomed and dreaded, both beneficial and stressful, both planned and unexpected. Oftentimes, growing is just as exhilarating as it is terrifying. Our thoughts may vary upon the consideration of any major development from one minute to the next. At times, we may wonder if the discomfort is even worth it. We may find ourselves wishing that we could just stay the same.

I recently made a decision to move from Atlanta to Charlotte in order to be closer to my family. While this announcement came as a shock to many of my dear friends and coworkers, it was a decision that I had been mulling over for several months, and it was not a choice that I took lightly. Fortunately, I was able to transition to a different office within the same company, so my job responsibilities didn’t change too much, and I am still working with truly wonderful people. Nevertheless, I agonized over the decision, taking every possible scenario to the nth degree. I was comfortable in Atlanta, living near my best friends and working in an amazing office environment with a unique familial culture. I was certainly content when I was in the office, but outside of work, I simply wasn’t fulfilled anymore.

I had to make the painful decision to leave my comfort zone in pursuit of holistic happiness. I reassured myself that I would still be able to keep in touch with my friends in Georgia through the wonders of technology, and that I would visit as often as possible. I finally worked up the courage to make the transition, and it was just as difficult as I imagined it would be. I was beginning to become overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving, changing, and growing, and then a thought occurred to me—a lovely, bewildering, and strangely comforting thought…

How wonderful it is to have so many people to miss.

What a blessing it is to experience so many deeply felt farewells. What a testament it is to the people in my life who have had such a strong impact on me just by being who they are. What a comfort it is to know that our friendships will transcend time and space.

What a privilege it is to have growing pains.

When we are children, our growing pains consist primarily of physical signals that can be addressed with Band-Aids and Tylenol. We get taller, we skin our knees less often, and we soon forget what it was like to be little, and what an honor it is to grow up at all. As we get older, our growing pains shift—they become progressively more emotional and psychological. They consist of goodbyes and see-you-soons, regrets and apologies, shortcomings and disappointments, yet all the while tinged with budding dreams and quiet inner pangs of possibility.

We must never stop growing, but we must remember to be attentive to our growing pains in the process. Above all, we must never lose the conviction that more often than not, the discomfort of changing is worth the trouble. Growing is a truly transformative force that only ends if we permit it to stop, and we must be willing to allow it to take hold if we are to realize our full potential. Ultimately, our growing pains are signs of progress, as they are reminders of how deeply we have lived, and they bring with them the promise of an even more rewarding future.


Note: This blog originally appeared on


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