With enough water, sunlight, and air, you can watch the plant you recently bought from a roadside nursery grow into that perfect addition to your room’s aesthetic. The only effort you really need to make is to remember to water the plant. That’s it, a once-in-a-day reminder to pour half a cup of water over your plant, and in less than two weeks, you have that perfect piece of room decor.
The only problem that the plant poses is the painful reminder that we aren’t as simple as plants.
It’s easier for the living thing with no motor skills or deadlines to achieve a tangible value, aesthetic or otherwise, than it is for us. We as humans are much more complicated and the entire concept of ‘growing’ into something that adds value to the world (our equivalent of a cramped hostel room) is, for want of a better phrase, quite the trip.
The problem with the concept of growth comes from the lack of objective meaning the word has, especially in the context of new-age spirituality.
“Grow into your best self.”
“Read 48 books and endure 72 hours of therapy per week, with a generous helping of Ted talks on the side to watch yourself grow into the ideal you.”
“Surround yourself with people that help you grow.”
The problem with the word ‘growth’ is that none of us know what it means anymore.
Am I supposed to grow as a professional? Work more, and increase my productivity? Usually, it comes at the cost of my mental and physical health.
Am I supposed to grow physically, just as the label on a Horlicks jar promised me? Well, science tells me that it’s not even possible at my age.
Am I supposed to grow in the sense of my mental health? Maybe yes, maybe not, too much time with the mental health brigade only taught me that most of it is subjective and individual-specific; ergo, I can’t compare my journey to another’s.
Growth is a confusing word to me, and I’m not fond of it anymore.
Growth has suddenly transformed into the objective of getting random things done, which hardly mattered too long ago.
Growth to many has become about spending close to an hour making a salad, none of whose ingredients are found in your kitchen and now merit a trip to the supermarket, but ending up eating instant noodles for dinner.
Because eating salad looks better than eating noodles. It screams “look at me, I’m working on myself!”
But too much forced growth in your life, and chances are you’ll end up slightly bitter about everyone else around you who isn’t obsessed with growth, everyone who gets to enjoy their noodles, while you eat a salad that frankly tastes like paper.
The obsession with concepts like ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’, especially for twenty-something-year-olds who are constantly pushed to keep up with an unrealistic ideal of success (mental, physical, and financial success, all simultaneously), has to stop. Growth has been romanticised into being the highest, nay the only, priority in our lives, but somewhere it’s equally important to make sure that we don’t lose track of simpler pleasures.
Engage with happiness that doesn’t necessarily merit applause on Instagram but instead just feels good.
Written by Sadashiv Mitra for MTTN
Edited by Mihika Antonia Dean for MTTN
Featured image by Lisk Feng
Artwork by Marija Tiurina