Every decade, we change and grow, but somewhere along the way the desire tends to slow down for many.  This is a post exploring a few of the many reasons why this may occur.

Isn’t it funny, all we do for the first days, months, years of our lives is learning and growing.  Our soul day-to-day purpose is discovering, changing and adapting to new things.  But somewhere along the way, we slow that process severely, but why?  Do we get to a place where we feel we know enough?  Do we think we have learned it all? Is it a loss of interest?  Are we too busy to prioritize the time?  Or do we simply forget how to learn and grow?

From 0-5 we learn and grow an exponential amount, walking, talking, listening, comprehension, risk, reward, etc.  In our first 10 years of life there are drastic changes and growth.  We learn so much in those first 10 years.  Our days are quite literally based around learning, while in school, after school with homework, afternoons and weekends with team sports and other groups, listening to our parents and other adults around us.  Our little minds are firing on all cylinders, soaking in every bit of information around us, the good the bad and all of the wonderfulness in between.  In those years we learn how to write cursive (or at least we used to), we start to learn math skills beyond our pluses and minuses.  We might experience our first crushes, and our first tastes of heartache.  We start to express ourselves in a way that triggers the rest of the world to start to define us.  ‘Oh, they are just…’ shy, outgoing, nerdy, difficult, extrovert, introvert, happy, troubled and so on.  And we, as children, start to listen, and more often than not we start to lean into those identities.  With so much information and growth during this developmental time, it is no wonder that the next decade comes with increased pressure and struggle, as well as continued wonder and surprise.

From 10-20 we experience lots of emotional changes.  Hormonal, physical, mental.  The most fragile years in a sense, yet the years where we tend to most disguise and hide and try and stifle ourselves and the big emotions that come with this time of life.   By now we are most definitely experiencing much more intense learning.  The high school years are filled with so many choices and options for learning direction. Not only are we learning crazy new math problems that now involve numbers AND letters, but we’re also trying to relearn how to speak and read in ‘Shakespearian’, dissect small animals, build engines, perform monologues, create art etc.  My point is, during this decade, we are learning on hyper drive and expected to navigate that through, and on top of drastic hormonal changes and more likely than not, some personal, home, or familial struggles to boot.  We may start experimenting with sex, drugs and alcohol.  Things that at that time we aren’t often aware enough to know how they may impact or affect the following decades to come, and how we may regret some of those choices and actions. This is the decade where we are both fearless and scared shitless all at the same time.  It’s a wonderful, terrifying, and important time of our lives. 

From 20-30 we expect that who we are is who we will be.  After all, by 20 we have it all figured out, right? We have left the world of mandatory schooling and are out in the world making our own day to day choices.  First jobs, post-secondary schooling, traveling the world, living out on our own, getting married, starting a family etc. the events of this decade are grand.  This time in our lives is still full of learning and growing but on a much more life-based level.  We are learning from our successes and our failures, from the trial and error of the years past, from the people around us, good and bad, from the cultures we immerse ourselves in, and the things we chose to watch and listen to.  In those early 20’s we’re still fairly naive to the ‘real world’ even though we are experiencing it firsthand. Less fearless, still scared shit less.  During this time, we start to think that the person we are becoming, is who we are destined to be forever.  Setting out on this thought, even though we have quite literally just experience 20 + whole years of extreme changes.  Yet for some reason we start to ‘settle in’ to who we think, we think we are.  I feel like we start to lose the desire to change and or grow from there.  This might not be a conscious thought, but I believe unknowingly so, we just tend to sink into these beliefs.  Now I am not saying that this is true for everyone, and to be honest a lot of this doesn’t even apply to me, but it is how I imagine a large portion of us have experienced these times and how I would picture them if I was writing a 90’s after-school sitcom about it (I wonder who would play me??).  By 30 a lot of us are so uncomfortably comfortable with our little lives, that we start to put the learning to the side.  And to be fair, by this time, some of us are just trying to survive our day-to-day, and that is ok too.

From 30-40 I think we start to realize our potential and choices we can make to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.  We are finding ourselves, establishing boundaries and realizing the control we can have over our lives.  We recognize that the last 30 years aren’t our destiny but just part of our journey.  In this decade we may be settling into our much sought-after career or reimagining ourselves in a new career and enrolling ourselves in some school or new learning. We may be starting a family for the first time, or maybe embarking on that journey for the second time or more.  Married, divorced, dating or choosing to fly solo.  We are likely familiar with death at this point, working through trauma, both the big ‘T’ and little ‘t’.  Big experiences all around us, allowing for big change and growth, but by now, we are making choices to either turn into or away from those opportunities for growth. 

Since this is as far as I have come in my life, I can’t speak to the decades to come, however, I can talk about my theory.   
People don’t change’ is a saying I’ve heard for years, ‘a cheetah doesn’t change its spots’, another one.  But this is crazy, to think that we have so much change in the first years and decades of our lives and just because our appearance slows down visibly while we age (height, body type etc.), that we, ourselves must slow down our changing process as well.  Bullocks I say to that!  I will suggest that we, humans, as a whole, by this time in life tend to fall into certain molds we think we’re expected to fit into.  Parent, employee, CEO, Entrepreneur, student etc.  The boxes that are set up for us, either through upbringing, society, social media or anything in between.  We often get quieter, not as curious or willing to make mistakes and less excited about the possibility of learning new things, because that often means changing, and well, change is hard.  Overall, I think that this generation in particular is very lucky.  We are lucky to be experiencing the universal shift in growth and acceptance of ‘personal development’, formerly known as the dreaded ‘self-help’ genre.  There is a shift, whether social media fueled or not, we are in a place where it is now becoming ‘cool’ to go inward and find, define, and recreate ourselves.  The generations before us did not have such an opportunity, at least not to this extent.  I have spoken to a lot of people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, that all wish they had learned ‘this or that’ when they were my age.  Not everyone sees things this way, and not everyone wants to ‘level up’ their lives or make these changes, and again, that is fully 100% ok, your path is your path.  I personally feel it is my responsibility to myself to take every opportunity for growth and development, and to make the absolute best of this short life I have, so, that is the angle I chose to come from.

No matter how many days, weeks, months, years or decades you have left, don’t stop learning, don’t stop growing and don’t ever think that you can’t dramatically change or evolve your own self.  Read, listen, create, adventure, play, grow, evolve, enjoy.  Do anything that you can to create the destiny and story that you want to live.  Bring back the unthreatened abandon of your 5-year-old self and join forces with the experience and knowledge of your life thus far. I doubt you’ll regret it 😊