Don't Try To Change. Try To Grow.

Don't Try To Change. Try To Grow.

Change is a word that does imply that there needs to be some radical overhaul. Change implies some level of shame. Growth is a word that implies that the capacity to be better is always there, but needs to be awakened.


There's a famous Gail Sheehy quote that goes like this:

"If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living."

But it's one that I pushed back against for reasons unknown to me at the time. Upon writing a different Odyssey article, and in my profound conversations with some friends: I realize that people don't change. They grow.

I fundamentally believe that there are elements to each person that makes them worthy and redeemable, no matter who they are. To insist on that person changing is a denial of seeing the best in that person, and not giving that person the benefit of the doubt. This last year, I've partially lived by the words that "you can't change people. They have to want to change themselves," but it's only now that I've rethought people's trajectories in life.

Change is a word that does imply that there needs to be some radical overhaul. Change implies some level of shame. Growth is a word that implies that the capacity to be better is always there, but needs to be awakened. Growth is often a step-by-step, gradual process.

I caught up with a friend I hadn't seen for a while, and she said that there was something different about me. I asked her if I'd changed, and she said no. My mannerisms and ways of doing things were still very similar. But she used the words "refined" and "matured." It took until now for that to settle in for me. I think back to the kid I was in elementary school, and I will always be that kid with all the personality traits I sought for a long time to purge myself of: I was angry, impatient, and thought I was better than everyone.

As much as I want to believe I'm different now, and as much as that might be true, the truth lies in lyrics of Eminem's "Not Afraid": "I had to go to that place to get to this one." We won't be who we are without the mistakes we make and what we learn from them. Often times, if there's someone who makes a decision or has a lifestyle choice I see as destructive, I don't try to intervene or tell them what to do. Usually, they need to step into the furnace themselves and take their own path, not one that I or anyone else wants to lay out for them.

Change is a denial of the person and the decisions you made in the past. Change means there's a fixed destination, and the journey will end once you reach that destination. Growth is the acceptance of those mistakes or those flaws as part of your path. To me, change represents an unsustainable way of forcing yourself to be different. Growth is more organic and patient, and growth accepts that the journey is never over, that we will never know or be good at everything.

I think of the term "character development," and how it's often so much more compelling to see characters become different gradually over the course of a season or multiple seasons of TV, rather than a sudden, unnatural shift. It's called development for a reason. I think of my favorite show, "The Wire," and how two of the best-developed characters of the show, Ellis Carver, and Roland Pryzbylewski, grow from incompetent, corrupt, and incredibly brutality-prone Baltimore police officers to well-respected members of the communities they serve. They do it using their past experiences and failures, not neglecting and turning away from them.

I think of Paul, the apostle who went from being "chief among sinners" and killing and persecuting Christians to writing most of the New Testament and spreading the word of the gospel. Rev. Tim Keller tweeted on July 28 that "Paul's conversion is a great reminder that no one is beyond the reach of Jesus." And for people who aren't religious, that can also mean that you are never unworthy, even at rock bottom.

The fact is all the pieces matter. We are who we are not only because of the good, but also equally as much the bad. To try to erase a part of yourself will always come back and bite, and will never last long-term. To accept all of it, the good and the bad, is to live with pride in your journey, to know that everything mattered in the final analysis of making you who you are today.

And what about being in relation to others? What about a significant other you may want to spend the rest of your life with? Author Tonia Allen Gould, the founder of the Finding Corte Magore Project, asked a woman celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary what the secret to her marriage was, and the secret was this: "You can't change each other; no sense in trying. People don't change, they grow. Might as well accept each other for who you both are – the person you were when you got married, and the person you've each become."

I'm mature enough to realize I don't want to change anymore, for the sake of myself, or for the sake of others. The past is all the chapters prior to now. Now, I want to just keep pressing forward, and keep on growing.

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.


I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Why I Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not for political reasons

I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love AOC.


My political affiliation couldn't be kept a secret even if I tried. In the words of my mother, I've been a liberal since I popped out of the womb. So to me, the dramatic change in representation in the House was a huge win for me at this time in history.

While I sit on one side of the aisle because that's where I hear the most conversations about my closest political beliefs happening, I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The first I'd ever heard of this powerful voice from New York was in a video being shared around on Facebook that gave me a strong sense of hope that I haven't felt in a while. She explains the nuance behind "identity politics" and the importance of complete representation in Congress in terms of race, class, and policy. Here was a young woman in my generation (or just outside of it) running for Congress because she knew there was work to be done, not because she knew she would win, or because of some larger force paying her to win, or because she comes from a family of politicians. She ran because she was passionate and because she works to understand her district and represent them in ways that give her district a matched fight with revolving-door politicians who know how to play the game.

This woman, to me, represents accessibility into politics for Americans. When I first started listening to politicians and presidents talk on TV, I remember listening to Obama speak my freshman year of high school (maybe for a state of the union address?) and I asked my mom what a lot of words meant. I learned what poverty, immigration, economic policy, taxes, the middle-class, and more were. She had answers for some but not all of my questions, and then I asked why they felt the need to use such big, intimidating words? Weren't they supposed to represent the country, who to my understanding, probably didn't know what all of these words meant if my own mother didn't? (Moms know everything.)

I didn't want to be left behind in a country that made decisions based on Harvard graduate levels of thinking when most of us were in fact, not Harvard graduates. I was aware when Obama used words I had on a vocabulary test the week before, and I was aware that my honors class was strikingly different from my friends' general education English classes, and that our entire high school was years ahead of some less privileged schools 30-minutes away. But all of us, no matter how politically accessible our situations were or not, were to be represented by a man using these words.

AOC is progressive (in a non-political sense) for Americans because she uses rhetoric and tools to educate Americans instead of persuading or intimidating them to think that she just knows best. She's a politician, yes, so of course she uses persuasive techniques to get policy she believes in to pass so she can do her job as a legislator. But have you seen her Instagram stories or heard her speak in interviews?

Her style of leadership involves a refreshing level of transparency and group participation. I feel like I'm allowed to ask questions about what happens in Washington D.C., and about what another congressperson meant when they said ______. She answers questions like these online to her followers, some of which are her represented correspondents, and some of which are people outside of her district just desperate to expose themselves to any congressperson willing to talk to them on their level. Her flow inspires the average American to listen and checks the confident incumbent from underestimating just how much she knows.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to afford college. Not all of us are fortunate enough to come from a community where high schools prepared and primed us for college-level vocabulary filled conversations. Some of us have to accept politics as a realm with which we can never be involved, heard, or interactive. A.O.C. is what's changing this mentality. 43% of adults living in poverty function at low literacy rates. If they can't understand political rhetoric, how will they be able to democratically participate? Politicians spend so much time talking about poverty rates and how they want to move every family into a middle-class lifestyle, but they don't alter their political approach to invite the poverty-stricken or under-educated Americans into their conversations. AOC does this.

She spends time every night explaining whatever her followers have questions about in full detail. She actually uses up-to-date technology and social media to communicate with Americans, making older senators look lazy or technologically incompetent for not engaging with their community as often or as explicitly. Not to mention, every video I've ever seen produced by her or her team (including her Instagram stories) have closed-captions already edited in. She considers every American to be her audience before speaking, and the fact that what she's doing feels new and refreshing to me suggests just how badly we need her, and more people like her, in politics today.

This isn't even because of her understanding that literacy affects voting--in the original video I saw of her, she understands that the people she represents were flat-out not being addressed in politics. "People aren't voting because no one is speaking to them." Truly and meaningfully, directly and honestly.

She's America's teacher, a representative of why mentorship on all levels is important, and to me, what America would look like if our politicians were not only our representatives, but our educators, our mentors, and our teammates.

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