skepticism on personal growth ramble

August 25, 2017
Pondering about "Personal Growth", and my relative skepticism thereof. Growing up as a precocious kid with a big dose of "fixed mindset" (i.e my worthiness was rooted in being such a darn clever little guy, an intrinsic trait) I've grown up into someone who's totally tonedeaf when it comes to, say, character arc in a novel, because I figure everyone's pretty much the same core person their entire life, they might learn things and act a bit differently over time, but it's kind of superficial. At no time is it clear that a bunch of quantitative changes in behavior and outlook become a qualitative achievement of "growth".

(Come to think of it, all those positive personal developments seem to need tending, lest backsliding occur! Why do we always hear about "personal growth" but not "personal shrinkage"?)

It's weird, for a guy who is kind of skeptical about having an immortal soul, or anything independent of the body (save for a poetic sense of the impact we can make on other people) I certainly tend to act like there's a core, unchangeable essence of identity that has a few soul-like properties...

I'm thinking about how I've developed along with my main band, JP Honk. I remember a few years ago we were almost on the verge of adding a semi-regular other tuba player, and I was... I don't know, bothered by it, a bit jealous. I think I was insecure with my place in the band, and so the same sixth grade "I want to be on a unique-in-group instrument" vibe that caused me to switch to tuba from baritone in the first place reared its head. I knew that feeling was pretty and stupid, but it was still there.

I think since then I've gotten over it, and I welcome any addition to the bass part in any group I'm in. Part of that is confidence, and having done more leadership in my group, I know I'm useful and important in multiple ways. And some of it's just security about my relationship to HONK in general, and learning how to better apply my general sense of Feynman-ish "What do YOU care what other people think?"

But... is it growth? Personal development? How do you categorize it, and does it matter?
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