Growing pains - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Last week I had a little blast from the past by way of a scraped knuckle. As I was walking through my kitchen, my hand clattered into the counter on that magical angle that’s square enough for a bone bruise, but glancing enough that it tore the skin off of my knuckle, causing immediate bleeding.
As I’ve nursed this relatively benign injury, I’ve been reminded of my younger days, when my hands would be covered in such wounds more often than not. As a young kid and into my teenage years and even into my early 20s, I was a pretty angry person. It could have been any number of things, not the least of which were things at home, but I had a very difficult time controlling my emotions, especially when it came to my anger. When I played baseball, errors or strikeouts were almost certainly followed by thrown bats, helmets or gloves, while at home, when I had trouble navigating a situation emotionally, familial, romantic or otherwise, I would often punch things.
Never people, of course, although I did have a bit of a reputation for fighting in elementary school, but in my later years it was usually whatever was in front of me. I had holes in my walls, I’d tear my knuckles open punching brick walls and I even broke my hand hitting a road sign once (this, in addition to catching a number of “stingers” over the years when I was certain I’d broken a knuckle or a finger, only for the pain to fade a few days later).
While I can’t say that getting angry is a thing of the past, I can say I’ve calmed significantly in recent years and that the kind of explosive anger that I’ve just described isn’t part of my life any longer. Most people who I know in Huron County find me to be laid-back and are surprised to hear about my past anger issues.
So, that knuckle injury - the painful, deep cut that won’t heal because it cracks open and starts bleeding all over again every time you close your fist - reminded me of the bad old days. But, it got me thinking about growth, something to reflect upon as I turn 40.
As I turn 40 today (May 19, 2022), I think I can be proud of how much I’ve grown during the past four decades. I haven’t always made myself (or my loved ones) proud, but no one does. But, I think I’ve improved over the years and I’ve learned to be a better person. Part of that is settling into a career and being part of a community. Getting married has helped and becoming a father is a big piece of the puzzle.
As I’ve focused on different aspects of aging in recent weeks (in a series that maybe didn’t need to be stretched over four columns if I’m being completely honest), it feels like growth could be on the flip side of last week’s “regret” coin. I feel as though we should all be striving to grow every day; learning something new, bettering ourselves, improving our world and making a difference in whatever way we can.
It’s clear to see that when we had Tallulah in June of 2020 how that moment could change our lives forever. We had to grow as people to become parents, really, whether we liked it or not. That’s a pretty obvious one. But something like taming my anger is a lot more subtle, but perhaps just as important.
As I said in my last column, people often keep score as they age by accomplishments and regrets, but maybe we should be focusing on how much we’ve grown in our lives.
Personal growth is maybe one of those statistics that doesn’t really show up clearly in the box score, but you know in your heart if you’re growing or if you’re not. I’m happy with how I’ve grown as a person. I might not win an award for it or get a raise, but really it easily outshines both of those things.