By Maria

As a child of the sixties. large classrooms were commonplace. There were fifty-four pupils in my class and one teacher. It was easy to feel invisible, and as a quiet child voiceless and unimportant. The louder children drowned out my attempts to speak, and I lost confidence in who I was. I came to believe that what I had to say was of no value. Having a critical parent exacerbated this. I learned to see other people as rivals, their voices and opinions threatened my fragility and I fought for autonomy.

Therefore, the call to Grow up by Growing Little was very challenging for me. I was still that little girl who felt erased by the perceived confidence of others. Having to forego my own self-importance felt self-defeating. A voice inside me was screaming, “What about me?” 

However, after a couple of years in Grow, I now understand this is no longer true or necessary. One person’s voice does not silence mine. There are no rivals, we are all on the same team. Communicating and Connecting with each other, trying to break down the existential aloneness we all endure. We are indeed essential links to each other.

Growing in Maturity tell us, “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak”. That silence can respect the other person when we listen and truly hear what they have to say. Listening is a skill I have had to learn, knowing it is a gift we bestow on someone else. This gift is a mutuality, the time will come when I am the one who is being listened to.

I have learned to ask the proper questions. From “When is it my turn to speak”, to “How can I properly respond to the person in front of me”. “When do I step forward and assert myself”, to  “When do I stand back”. Standing back is a level of maturity. It enables me to grow out of the self-centeredness, to hand over the gift of compassion that was inside me all along. My contribution does not deplete my identity in any way. On the contrary, it allows me to recognise the gifts I have for empathy, the knowledge my own suffering has taught me. 

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