A Small Sign of Personal Growth

by Terry Nyhuis

Believe it or not, couple of years ago, a donut shop was a place of a personal revelation for me.

Fresh Donuts

Most of the time, my wife Anita and I eat healthy. Once a week or so, though, we splurge and have donuts for breakfast. One February morning, we were paying for them when the clerk asked me which of us got the cake donut with chocolate frosting and nuts on top and who got the cream-filled, chocolate-iced.

I answered, “She gets the nuts,” pointing to Anita. “She’s the nuts one.”

The clerk laughed and asked, “Now, why would you say she’s nuts and not you?”

I replied with a smile, “She’s nuts because she’s still working full time. We’re stopping here for a ‘healthy’ breakfast before I drop her off at work. Then I’ll head back to the apartment.”

“So, you’re retired, and she still works full time?”

This is where I surprised myself. I answered, “Yes. I’m fully retired,” and left it at that.

A year or so ago, I would have felt the need to add something like, “I retired from my career and now am a writer. I completed a doctorate and now am writing a book.” My ego couldn’t have stood being “merely” retired.

Moving Beyond Ego 

In the first half of our lives we are constantly working towards building and developing our egos, our sense of self, and a great deal of that is built upon how others perceive us. Once we have built a strong, healthy ego, we can sigh and, from a deep place within us, say, “I accept who I am, respect myself, like how I am with others, and can function well in my world.”

All of this not only takes time, but the time has to be ripe for the transformation. One can’t expect true changes to occur until the time is right. Like a garden, different crops in our lives mature at different times. We need to accept and appreciate where they are at any given time, and look forward to reaping the harvest when they are ready, not necessarily when we are.

Slow, Steady Growth

Sometimes personal growth feels so slow in me that I don’t notice it. But that day, I noticed. My ego is more secure. My self-esteem doesn’t need constant bolstering. I can affirm Anita without competing. It’s okay that it took me ten years to complete a three-year doctorate. I can lean into my current work of writing my book on Halfolescence and creating a life fully lived.  Being a “writer” isn’t so important. Putting butt in seat and stringing words together to see what emerges is enough.

Ah, the joy of small signs of personal growth.

Featured photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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