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Year 12 reflections on the Goal of Personal Growth

Imera, in Year 12, considers this year's Goal.

What does Personal Growth mean to me?

It’s an interesting question, certainly, a very complicated question.

I think the best answer to it is how people across the years of their life would answer it.

Teenagers are a fickle part of the human demographic, for sure, but this is because during these – still formative – years of our development, we are simply trying to grow in our personhood, our skills, our character and our morals.

Throughout my early childhood, I had little thought of my personal growth, which I think is a good thing. As what infant really wants to reflect on their flaws? However, this does leave the youngest of children entirely vulnerable to the opinions of others.

But upon entry into this school at the youthful and hopeful age of eleven, I was no longer the girl I had been the summer before. Changes had already happened. Adversity had already been faced and I was slowly being opened up to the pressures that I would face in the next five to seven years.

Very few children are lucky enough to reach the age of eleven without facing some level of adversity or struggle; it is the sad truth of our earthly existence. I was not one of the lucky few.

Personal Growth and Social Awareness

What does personal growth mean to me?

Maybe it is the increasing awareness that living longer has granted me. Personal growth might be a child, young and terrified, slowly learning to understand their fear, to push past it and become all the better for it.

Maybe personal growth is the confidence to have courage, and the courage to have confidence.

It is the social awareness to see those around you and look within yourself. To slowly grow to learn the face you see in the mirror, to learn your tastes and interests, your fears and your passions, your strengths and your flaws. It is the emotional intelligence gained through repeated failures to understand those around you, the empathy gained through the pain that showed you just how much it hurts to be broken.

Personal growth is changing from the girl of youthful naivety and therefore unapologetic ignorance, into a woman of empathy and intelligence, of knowledge and compassion.

It is learning that you are lovable, but also learning that flaws in yourself can be changed and worked on without diminishing your inherent goodness. It is learning that it is okay to have flaws, and that working on them is not a submission into self-hatred, but a testament to self-love.

But personal growth is so much more complex than that. It is not simply a growing awareness of the world around you. No. The human mind is a complex evolutionary thing that baffles the population, never capable of being fully and entirely understood. Nothing is ever that simple.

Personal Growth and my Faith

What does personal growth mean to me?

Personal growth, to me, has been the consolidation of my faith.

It has been learning about my God, about my Church and about my faith.

It has been learning that faith is not simply kneeling in a church but is the all-encompassing comfort of a higher being that loves me through everything. It is the power of a few words and the reassurance of forgiveness.

It is a strength through struggle, but it is also learning to separate faith from religion, love from institution.

My faith is the courage to question, the wisdom to know that there is no wrong in asking questions, in wondering, in even doubt. I have grown in learning that there is nothing that could ever make my God abandon me, and learning to love my God beyond the recital of a litany I memorised in childhood.

I have grown in believing myself to be His child, a feeling of unconditional love I have grown enough to know I, and everyone on earth, deserves.

Personal growth has been the confidence to accept that God loves me no matter what, and to seek comfort in Him, even when everything else fails to give me comfort, even while the whole world exclaims that He does not love me. It has been learning that God does love me, and that he always will.

Personal growth has been watching my friends on their own journeys of faith and looking into myself and finding my own. It has been the beauty of my faith and has been learning the flaws littered through the pages of history and having the wisdom to separate the people from the Church, to find beauty in it, and to heal what of my faith has been damaged over the years.

Personal growth is learning to find comfort in my faith and in my God.

And yet, has the question been fully answered?

Personal Growth and Intellect

What does personal growth mean to me?

Because it means so much more.

Personal growth is the acquiring of knowledge, the satiation of my desire for knowledge. The embracing of my inherent curiosity.

It is learning that intelligence is to be feared, yes, but also respected. It is learning the cost of knowledge, but equally the power of it.

It is the excitement of opening a book, the earnestness of learning about my favourite subject, the narrowing of my eyes at the headlines on the news channels.

Growing as a person cannot be done without growing in your mind. My intelligence has increased over the years, and I cannot name a person for who this isn’t true. Personal growth is learning that not all knowledge and intellect can be found in a classroom, that there are pages of history to uncover on your own, that there is no teacher that can fully instil in you a joy of reading that you must find yourself.

It is learning that working hard reaps rewards and learning how to motivate yourself to reach your goals. It is the coming into of your ambition, of your desire to leave your mark on the world, whatever that may be.

Does even that fully answer the question?

Personal Growth and my Community

What does personal growth mean to me?

Maybe personal growth has been finding my community. Maybe it is a girl struggling to belong, finally finding a home, a place where she can look around with confidence, and the instinctive knowledge that those around her are her home. Her place. Her family.

Maybe it is learning that family is the friends you make along the way, the acceptance of rejection and the euphoria of acceptance. Maybe it is the friendships bound by earnest promises of childhood being replanted with the maturity caused by years of growth.

It is those who understand my pain, those who share my triumphs. The finding of my own community has shown me how to grow into my own self, has given me the strength and support to become who I want to be.

The love of my community has nurtured me and the struggles and adversities I have faced have been faced by those I find a community with, and their understanding has helped me understand my own pain, and therefore grow from it, grow past it, and in the end, grow because of it.

Personal Growth

So, when all is said and done, what does personal growth mean to me?

In all honesty, I do not know. Have I grown enough to know? I am still a child, still learning about life, about kindness and cruelty, happiness and pain, love and hatred. I am still learning forgiveness and am still evolving friendships. I am still learning who I am, and how to be me.

Nonetheless, I think the epitome of personal growth is the humility to recognise that fact, the courage to accept it, the confidence to continue to grow, and the trust to believe I will be a better person at the end of it.

But that is enough about me.

The real question is, what does personal growth mean to you?

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