Photography by Kayte Demont

Apartment of Hannah Dresdner 



Growth. Personally, this is one of my favorite words in the English language. It makes me think of vitality, wisdom, beauty, and things that exude those qualities, like flowers and trees. I think of roots and soil, and the smells and temperatures and textures that come with. I think of rich browns and vibrant greens. I think of a feeling of contentment and being grounded, safe, and secure.

What I don’t think of (at least not immediately), are all of the things that are required in order to achieve this beloved growth. The storms, the cold, the disaster, the perseverance to thrive against all odds. To put it plainly, the shit. Cynthia Occelli says it better :

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

Yep. That sounds about right. I’d even argue to say, to someone who does understand growth, it still looks and feels like absolute destruction. But it’s true, that when we face (whether willingly or not) our greatest hardships, we are bound for the grandest transformations. When was the last time that you heard of Middle-of-the-road-Millie becoming her best and brightest self just chugging along and taking no risks? Nothing too hard, nothing too exciting, just riding the middle. I believe that is actually called a flatline.

I’ve recently gone back to school, something I’ve typically been good at since I was a kid. It was very easy for me to chug along and ride the middle in my younger years. I tried to go into this new situation with an open mind and open heart, accepting that this time around could be different. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality in which I now find myself. I’m filled to the brim with new content on a daily basis, given projects and deadlines, and working with others. I’ve had people seem to just flat out dislike me as a person regardless of how I present myself. And though there is this constant turmoil around me that I could very easily blame for my state of unrest (and sometimes, I do), this whole experience has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself.

I’m learning that I’m not as patient as I’ve imagined myself to be. I’m being challenged to rise to the occasion and tell myself that I can do this day in and day out. I’m being pushed at every boundary and every limit, being urged to find the capacity to expand. It’s painful, and it’s hard. In a yoga class recently, in a particularly challenging posture when my muscles were screaming loud enough to quiet my mind, one small phrase came across my mind: “If I’m uncomfortable, that means I’m growing.”

Ahhhh, that’s right. Growth. The earth, the tree, the grounded contentment. That’s where this discomfort, unrest, complete destruction ultimately leads. All of this is for a purpose, and all of it is connected. Keep breathing, keep pushing, and embrace the toughest part of the process. It yields the most beautiful results.

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