A few years ago, I saw a Ted Talk by John Green. I didn't know much about him at the time, but his message of how learning is the meaning of life resonated with me. He talked about how YouTube is a good platform for learning things, if you know where to look. This brought out the excitement for learning new things that I had felt as a child when I watched movies and TV and absorbed things from them.
That excitement for learning was extremely satisfying when it hit me, and it is still satisfying. The YouTube community along with my deep yearning for productivity made me adopt the growth mindset.
The growth mindset is a mindset that allows you to think of yourself as a person who is always changing and growing, as opposed to the fixed mindset. This was very appealing to me as a teen that despised having certain flaws and issues. It was a relief and it gave me hope that one day, when I have grown enough and learnt enough skills, I might finally feel "worthy." Even if I did have to spend all my life growing.
The mindset was addictive and it was invigorating to have that purpose. A sort of faith that things will feel better if I just kept working hard and kept learning.
It didn't matter how flawed a person I was or how imperfect I was at any skill, because I can always learn and change and grow.
I just have to strive for improvement, constantly. I have to keep that line of maturity going up, at a constant slope. If that line ever slowed down or decelerated, I'd lose whatever chance I had at finally becoming "worthy." At some... indeterminate point in the future.
I am extremely hard on myself when I don't learn something quick enough or make habitual mistakes. We all know that the best way to stop making a mistake is to obsess about it and let it fuel an anxious cycle of misery that makes you question your foundational beliefs.
There's no quicker way to fix yourself.
Confusing, self-deprecating sarcasm aside, this did not help in the slightest.
As much as I hoped it would help, it still made me feel devoid of worthiness. It gave me a reason to feel worse about myself. What was the point of trying at all if I couldn't learn things efficiently? Gradually, I learnt that my view of this mindset was self-defeating.
Growth, it turns out, is an incredibly human endeavor. We are all predisposed to learning and sorting things out.... by making a butt-load of mistakes.
But that constantly upward-sloping line of maturity is far removed from being human. Maturity is never a perfectly straight line. People constantly backslide and slip up. We constantly make mistakes that we thought we'd grown out of. Micromanaging this growth made me miss the whole point of the growth mindset. It also made me miss the more nuanced aspects of maturity. For instance, it made me miss these harmful thought patterns which actively hindered my improvement.
Growth can also be inward, in a way that cannot be easily quantified or assessed. Periods of time where the more tangible, "productive" skills stagnate might just be periods of a type of growth that can help us learn things we didn't know we needed to learn.
I still feel compelled to be productive and get that invigorating feeling back. I still feel compelled to not 'waste' my time and potential.
But I can't keep expecting my output or the skills I have to make me “worthy." My growth is stunted under the weight of my expectations.
I have to learn that I am "worthy" right now. Sometimes all I can do is sit back, keep existing and hopefully, grow in ways that I didn't expect to grow.