What I'm Learning About Breakthroughs

Emily Raleigh What I'm Learning Breakthroughs.jpg

Do you know why this column is called "What I'm Learning"? A few years ago I wrote an article for what was our digital magazine at the time. I showed it to my mom prior to adding it to the issue and she said, "Em, this doesn't sound like you." Then my sister said the same thing. And then my roommate said the same thing. And then one of my teammates said, "I feel like I'm reading something written by Emily in 50 years. But this doesn't feel like you right now."

They were all right, no question there. I started to retrace my steps a bit. You see, this was a column I wrote every month, similarly to how I kick off the month with our Power Word these days. So where did I go wrong? As I tried to find this article's origin, I realized that I had written based on how I thought others expected me to write. I wrote the message I thought they wanted me to convey. I essentially put on the name tag of someone older, wiser, and much more knowledgeable than me. 

That's not to say wisdom has an age requirement but as I went back and read the piece, I realized something important: I'm still the student. And this was written as if I had a Ph.D. in life. 

That article was my own personal breakthrough. It was a turning point for how I'd write and speak in the years to come. It was this marvelous realization that to have a voice didn't mean I had to be wise beyond my years or know anything with certainty for that matter. I could just share what I was learning at that very moment and in doing so, I could grow and maybe someone else would evolve a little bit, too. 

This column became "What I'm Learning" because that's exactly what I'm doing: learning. I'm not dispelling wisdom. I'm not saying I know anything for sure. Because, well, who knows anything for sure at 24? That breakthrough gave me the permission slip to bring myself into my words and to let it all show–my age, my experience (or lack thereof), my shortcomings, and my strengths. We are all always students if we do it right, but especially in this chapter, my intention is to just soak it all in and discern my certainties later when I've had enough time to marinate on them.

I kept thinking about that breakthrough this month. This Power Word held such meaning because I'm beginning to understand that we are all looking out the window of our lives, hoping for the breakthrough moment that transforms our ordinary into extraordinary.

It was through our team's articles that I gained a deeper understanding of what it took to have a breakthrough in the first place. It seemed that every time it came about because of some kind of breakdown. Carly talked about a friendship breakdown. Morgan talked about career failure. Bess talked about losing her motivation. Each of those experiences, while difficult in the process, brought about a deeper understanding of who they are, what they need, and how to move in the direction of their deepest ambitions.

But breakthroughs don't happen simply because we wish for them. Sarah said it best in her essay, "The Slow Climb,"

"When we talk about a breakthrough, it’s easy to imagine everything happening suddenly, almost overnight. That we make the quantum leap from being stuck in one place, to arriving at the foot of destiny. However, more likely than not, a breakthrough takes time."

She talked about what you can do to prepare for the transformative moments that happen in life. It reminded me of a quote by Queen Supreme (aka Oprah), "I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity." To welcome in change, we have to do the hard things. We have to put in the time. We have to educate ourselves on the personal growth we so strongly crave. Morgan shared the books that opened her eyes when she felt stuck in a rut. Sarah gave us the inside scoop on Buti Yoga, a new kind of yoga practice that is designed with empowerment in mind. And Elle highlighted chakras and what they can tell us about our physical and emotional health.

We also discussed how to inspire personal growth and self-actualization. The Spire Spaces column this month highlighted various ways you can add inspiring elements to your living space. Morgan showcased seven outdoor adventures you can take this summer that are sure to welcome peace of mind and self-discovery. I wrote about capsule wardrobes and how I'm hoping to use the practice as a way to create a wardrobe that fully reflects who I am and what brings me joy.

And, finally, we broke down some of the things we've all been meaning to do, practice, or use. There's Sarah's guide to gardening no matter where you live (my personal favorite from this month), Kate's breakdown of how meditation can make you more productive, and Carly's roundup of affordable products that will do wonders for your skin AND shield you from the sun.

What I'm learning about breakthroughs is that if you want change, you have to take the long road. You have to invest in yourself. You have to honor your time. And you have to respect the amount of time it takes to make big things happen. Just as Rome, Oprah, and all the remarkable people and things weren't built in a day, neither will you. But the process is what makes it fun. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's reveal of our June 2018 Power Word.

Did you have a favorite article this month? Share with me in the comments!


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