I read this quote the other day that said “a shark in a fish tank will grow 8 inches, but in the ocean it will grow to 8 feet or more. The shark will never outgrow its environment and neither will you.”
Now, I am no scientist, nor have I ever attempted to grow a shark in a small fish tank, so I can’t speak to whether or not that is factually correct, but it is quite the thought-provoking sentiment. The shark in the tank probably doesn’t even realize that it has the potential to become the sea giant worthy of starring in several major motion pictures, or have an entire week on the Discovery Channel dedicated to it, or even the ability to shut down an entire beach at the mere sight.
Sometimes I think we are the same way. We tend to get so caught up in our own comfort zones that we become stagnant and stop progressing, not realizing that we are capable of so much more. There is no growth without challenging yourself and getting away from what you know is easy and comfortable.
Just over a year ago, I moved across the country away from everything I had ever known. I relocated from a small town in northern Utah to a suburban town just outside of Dallas, Texas. When I had made that decision, so many of my friends and family didn’t understand it. In all honesty, I didn’t even understand it. I wasn’t chasing a specific job or person or really anything specific. My life was good in Utah, it was easy. I had the greatest group of friends and a great job with people that I enjoyed working with. I probably could have stayed there forever and been happy enough.
However, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was stuck. I was watching my friends and family make all these big life decisions, graduating college, getting corporate jobs, moving to different places, while I was doing the same monotonous tasks day to day. I longed for something new, and it was then that I decided to leap. I had family in Texas and knew it was a bigger and better market for the degree that I am pursuing, but aside from that, I genuinely had no idea how it was going to turn out. That was both terrifying and exhilarating.
When I got here, I faced more challenges than I ever could’ve imagined. Little did I know when I picked up my entire life and moved it across the country that we all were headed straight into a global pandemic. Like many people over the course of the last year, every single plan that I had thought out and prepared for had been completely uprooted. On top of that, every time I would pivot one way, another challenge would be thrown my way and I would have to pivot another.
I sit here today with genuine whiplash from the last year, but I have grown and learned more about myself and even about my field of study than I ever would have had I not been faced with so many challenges and hurdles that I would have to overcome. Each one of them forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me in a direction where I would gain something great.
Without having to pivot into taking any “essential” job I could find that wasn’t on a hiring freeze at the time, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends. As a graphic designer, had I not been forced to explore other avenues of design than what I had initially thought I would be doing for the rest of my life, I would not have learned some of the staple techniques that I still use every single day. Every challenge that I thought was a roadblock, actually led me to something better and I wouldn’t be here today without them.
We don’t grow when things are easy. We don’t learn when we are comfortable. We do so when circumstances are hard. Voluntary or involuntary, challenges make us better, regardless of how miserable they can feel while we are trudging through them. I’d be willing to bet that every time you overcome one, you walk away with something you didn’t have before.
When times get tough, don’t just throw up your hands and let life happen to you.
Duck your head, ball your fists, and then push through it.
Today’s Monday Mo was presented to you by Hallie Preece, Graphic Designer at Spot On Solutions.