How to Know if You Have Outgrown Who You Used to Be
Monday December 11, 2023

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As a child, we physically grow in spurts it seems. All of a sudden our shoes don’t fit, or our pant legs are too short or those darn coat sleeves don’t reach our wrists any more. It probably is more consternating to our parents at the time as they are the ones having to pay for more shoes and clothing to clothe us, but in the moment we pull on that pair of shoes that once fit just fine to now finding our toes scrunched up against the front, we become uncomfortable at the very least doing and wearing something that used to fit like a ideally sized glove and possibly unable to function well in the activities we enjoy doing or need to do for our daily tasks and activities.

In such instances figuratively, it often takes time to know we need to move on, that we have outgrown who we used to be, to let go of what used to work, what used to be healthy and nurturing for us and openly acknowledge that we have learned all that we can, experienced all that is constructive and need to forge forward into the unknown. The first good news is that we are able to forge ahead even if it may be difficult emotionally, and that is a significant clue that we need to, and another bit of good news is that we consciously acknowledge we are stagnant because we literally can no longer do what we enjoy doing or engage in such a way that gives us purpose and somewhere inside us we know there is something else we must experience, learn or discover, but we know it is out there waiting to be discovered if only we would do things differently and let go of our old self.

Sometimes moving on isn’t a choice, as the quote shares above. Sometimes something or someone is removed from our lives unexpectedly or far earlier than we had anticipated leaving us feeling unprepared and as if we are left standing on one leg, not ready to yet to walk on our own. And even when we wish to move forward, desired it, planned for it, dreamt about it, it can be daunting to physically make the moves to step away from our old self – to turn in the keys, sign the papers, hop on the plane, etc.. However, this is the universe helping us out. The universe has confidence in us or it would not have pulled the rug out from under us or given the go-ahead with the new job, or any other window that opened and we dared to look through and see what may await us. In cases of the former, unwanted changes, while we may want to curse endlessly at the universe for taking such action, believe it or not, it is trying to help us out.

It is trying to help us realize we are ready, and we will be able to figure it out because when we had become so habitualized in our ways of doing something, when it no longer works because at least it is known, not necessarily because it’s the best thing for us, but because at least we know what will happen (or at least find comfort in thinking this is the case), we cling and it becomes difficult to let go. And in the instance where we are constantly imagining something, curious about something that will not leave our day dreams, at least taking steps to explore where the curiosity is directing us and how we respond to what we discover can help us determine what step to make next.

So here’s the thing. Many TSLL readers I have a feeling are people who engage with life with a growth mindset. You, and I count myself into this descriptor as well, are curious about the world, life and how to savor it all the more, and so because we are guided by curiosity, because we choose to learn, we will change, and gradually, over time, all of those little bits of new knowledge, skills and insight culminate into something we now possess within us that is painting a new picture of life. Our awareness of the world and ourselves is forever changed, and while some of the growth may have been intentional, along that chosen journey are often accompaniments of growth within ourselves that we didn’t realize would happen. Similar to planting herbaceous perennials such as peonies, you plant it intentionally, but you don’t know how many stems will emerge each following year or where exactly they will emerge, but you know there will be growth.

Such is the case with outgrowing who you once were.

You’ve chosen the change, you’ve invested in the change, or you know it is coming, but you don’t know exactly how or when it will be time to accept the change and take the steps intentionally into your newest self. Daunting, this nebulous unknown, non? Yes, it is. Can you master it? Yes, you can. Is it full of benefits for your life journey? Yes, it is. But I cannot tell you what those will be. Part of the bargain is choosing to step into your new self and seeing them directly, experiencing them with your own eyes, and then you will know that indeed it was worth it. And in those moments of discovery, you will never consider returning to your old self because your old self would have never had such opportunities and experiences.

Let’s return to the question, and subsequent questions, that may be dancing in your mind as you read the post, Have I outgrown my old self? Am I in need of shedding a self from my past that is no longer serving my present?

Such questions sound existential and thus overwhelming, but the shedding of our old selves can be taken in little ways as much as they can be in large, over-arching lifestyle ways. Perhaps it is a food you start or stop eating, or default critical thinking patterns or utterances you now choose to reframe from. And yes, it could absolutely be stepping away from one career and into another. Deciding to no longer work with someone you’ve long teamed up with realizing and then forging a better path for business progress that suits you best. Choosing to end a relationship with someone or having to grieve the loss of a loved one. Spending less time with one friend to make room for healthier connections, which could include more time with yourself to ensure you are headed in the best direction.

Once unnecessary selves have been shed, we typically were not aware of how relief-filled we will be. Why? Because we’ve never been this self before which is why such decisions to do so are often swarming with fear. Fear in such cases arises from not knowing, and if we’ve never been who we are now becoming, we can never know where we are headed should we make the decision to let go.

And sometimes what happens when we are forced to let go of an old self, an old habit, a default or way of doing something that we may, if we are being honest with ourselves, know we must move on from, we discover something about ourselves, our ability to do something well, and that, that is an awesome gift. The gift of confidence to trust ourselves and that makes future decisions to shed old selves all the easier so long as we are heeding our curiosity and choosing to approach life with an open and learner’s mind, we will continually be shedding old selves, and that confidence comes in handy to know when and how best to move forward.


6 thoughts on “How to Know if You Have Outgrown Who You Used to Be

  1. Oh my, how many times have I shed my old self? Too many to count. Sometimes intentionally and on a few occasions, not planned. As a person who constantly searches and evaluates everything from paint color to the meaning of life, I have learned to embrace the changes and remain guarded until I am able to fit into that new normal. Truthfully, I often don’t adapt all that well. Such is the human experience, however, knowing that these changes can expose you to new people and experiences makes it all worthwhile and surely preferable to stagnation and boredom.

    1. Lucy,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with shed our old selves. Your sharing of evaluation speaks to me as I too understand the necessity and gift of moving forward tend to check, check again, and confirm once more just to make sure is a wise move for my life journey. And as you have shared, sometimes the shedding is unplanned which can make it even more difficult to adapt or embrace fully. A human tendency indeed. I appreciate your awareness in sharing all of this basic you remind and reassure that the changes while they may not be always comfortable but because they steer us away from stagnation and thus decline in being alive are certainly preferred. Thank you again for your comment. 😌💛

  2. You have such a special gift for isolating great thoughts and expounding on them, Shannon! The opening quote here is striking; makes me curious about the screenwriter’s experiences. And your essay builds a wide-open context to ponder aspects of growth more broadly and spend some time journaling with it. Thank you for the inspiration this day!

    1. Liz,

      Definitely an exploration that will be unique to each of and one which asks us to know ourselves well and listen to what our inner voice is trying to reveal to us. Thank you for stopping by and sharing how it sat with you. Journaling is a wonderful idea for exploring where our new self is and needs to let go of. 😌

  3. Shannon~

    It felt as though you wrote this article specifically for me.

    For the last seven years, and with the help of TSLL, I have found myself becoming more and more the “self” I want to be, and definitely feel as though I have outgrown the old me. During this process, it seems as though I have also “outgrown” some people and viewpoints along the way. At the same time, here, I have learned that this is my journey and it is okay to live it in a way that works for me. At times that means someone may not get to join, while others get to come along for the ride.


    1. Michelle,

      I hear/read so much strength and quiet confidence in what you have shared. 😌 I am touched that TSLL was able to support you in any way along your journey to feeling as you do and making the nourishing changes you have made. So happy for you. Thank you very much for your comment. ☺️💛

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