One of the most important things I've realized recently is that extraordinary growth often comes from extraordinary pain. I've noticed that the toughest periods of my life taught me the most valuable lessons. I've worked through hardship and discomfort, and have grown tremendously from it. I am not the same person I was when I woke up yesterday, nor will I be the same person when I wake up tomorrow. Because life happens. Our experiences, other people and the world shape who we are and who we become. We're not meant to be the same people forever. Humans are hardwired to grow and evolve.
By pain I don't just mean being hurt over something, or going through a rough patch in life. I'm also referring to the uncomfortableness that can come from challenging yourself. Growth, by default, requires some level of discomfort. Right outside of that space you call your "comfort zone" is where those truly great things, where the things that make life worth living happen. The way to get out of that comfort zone is allowing for discomfort and pain to push you out of it. Growth is a hallmark sign of living. Constantly changing and evolving is a sign that you've fully embraced life in all of its unpredictable glory. Growing may hurt, but the pain of staying the same is worse. It's messy and complicated, but it's unbelievably worth it.
When life throws you a curve ball, you can let it break you or you can view it as an opportunity for growth. You can feel sorry for yourself and wallow in the fact that the world has dealt you a bad hand, or you can grow from it. You have to trust that your pain will turn into strength. Perhaps not at first—maybe for a while all that pain will simply just hurt. However, there will come a day where you will notice that it doesn't anymore. That whatever bothered you for so long no longer has a grip on you. You will reflect on that period of your life and gain perspective on it. You'll look back and marvel at just how far you've come.
Without any adversity or pain, you would stay stagnant. Growth is painful and it's rarely easy, but a life without growth isn't living at all. Enjoy the discomfort that accompanies growth, lean into it and remind yourself that on the other side of pain is a better you. Someone who has tripped and stumbled and fallen down, but has always picked themselves back up. Someone who has struggled but emerged stronger for it. As Haruki Murakami said, "When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."