Growing In Three Dimensions

There’s a theory I’ve been building in my head. The theory is that we grow and mature in three basic ways. Those ways are: as individuals (intro-self, if you will), as social beings (extro-self), and as individuals with a purpose in the greater cycle of world (our purpose, our fate, our “calling”, what-have-you).

The past bunch of years I have been thinking a lot about the different ways in which we grow. I think that’s because of the different perspective I have on it than most other people do (most people that I know of, anyway).

That’s because of the way in which people usually seem to grow. I see the pattern generally as: forming a bit of their intro-self first, then their extro-self as they get tossed in with their peers in school and whatnot. Their extro-self continues to grow, as their existence from that point forward revolves around social interaction. During adolescence there’s more of the intro-self growth, but since by this point most of their life and perspective is defined by all things social, they tend to view themselves in relation to others, as well. An intro-self that forms in relation to their extro-self and others’ extro-selves.

Eventually, their third “dimension”- their place in the world- begins to develop. As they near college-age, they begin to think about themselves as real people, about to embark on real life, what that means, what they’ll do, what their passions are, passions which are often indicators of purpose/fate/calling.

Of course, people don’t always find their calling at this time, or even when they go to college at the standard 18 years of age, or even if they don’t go to college and begin life in the “real world” right away. Some people know this purpose from a very early age, some people never find it.

All these steps are, of course, constantly defining themselves. Because we never stop growing. I don’t have to tell you that. But there ARE points in our lives when we get it, we hit it, we stop struggling internally so much (struggling, whether or not we’re aware of it). We feel some amount of safety and comfort in each of these three dimensions at some point in our lives. Even if it’s just as simple as, “I don’t have it completely, but I’m on the right path.”

Again, I think about this because of my own experience, which has been vastly different than what I just described (which, again, seems to me to be the pretty “standard” experience, by standard I mean the way our society has structured itself to nurture people in different ways in different stages of their lives, etc. Of course there are variations). I won’t go into it completely, as you know some of it anyway, I think, but for me, the process of my growth of the first two dimensions was reversed. I developed my intro-self very quickly, while my extro-self lie mostly dormant and unformed until much later. I had my purpose/fate/calling, then I lost it, then I seemed to regain it. (Long story.)


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