Chapter 1

Introducing the Chronicles of Growth

Chapter 1

Introducing the Chronicles of Growth

March 21st 2020,
by Jasmine Mascarenhas

The Chronicles of Growth will capture the stories of this generation, starting with mine. Writing always came naturally to me, from making up stories as a child, to keeping personal diaries as a young adult, most of my life is logged in written form. I think we can learn a lot from our past, which is why this journey will always include direct passages from a ‘younger me’.

I founded Grow Still in response to the serious need for support in the emerging adult population. I’ve often referred to it as ‘my baby’ and I don’t think there’s a more fitting metaphor. In the beginning, the project was like a part of me. Its birth made me feel alive and purposeful. When my own life was in shambles, and I was left without mental space to continue the project,  I tried to let it go and convince myself it was a silly dream. It turns out that distancing myself from it only made me realize that it wasn’t something I could walk away from. It was my calling and I just needed to believe in myself. The idea for this blog came shortly after I decided to move forward with the initiative in November 2018. Since then, the aching to write ‘publicly’ grew steadily. ‘My baby’ has developed into something bigger than I ever imagined – thanks to hard work, the many people who believed and contributed to my vision, and a bit of luck. 

My own growth and experiences through the creation process have brought me stability and balance, which gave way to a more healthy attachment to the project itself.  One of the reasons I have resisted writing this first article for over a year is because building a solid organizational foundation for Grow Still was more important. As an entrepreneur in the first years of your business, the more you work, the more work you create. As the system expands, its complexity deepens calling for administrative and organizational management and ‘mini-projects’ pop up unexpectedly. It has been one hell of a ride, and if I’m really honest, I wouldn’t be writing right now if not for the global pandemic…

I love the idea of writing to everyone, and no one at the same time. On this first day of spring (I’m not sure when you will actually be reading this, since I will surely be editing for weeks, those ‘mini-projects are bound to pop up, and the web design will take time too), I feel like the world has finally slowed down enough to listen more deeply. The way I see it (and I know many others share this view as well) this pandemic is the universe’s way of telling us we can’t continue on like this. The global situation was already urgent; this historical event is simply forcing us to collectively connect to that reality. In fact, some of the first words I wrote when creating Grow Still, were:

‘The first step to healing ourselves as a species is admitting that we are ill. Depression, substance abuse, cancer, poverty, crime – we are either unhealthy, unhappy, poor, or living in a bubble pretending everything is okay. We allow social constructs such as race and gender to divide us, and hide behind screens because we can’t talk truthfully to each other anymore. We may vary in skin colour, sex, physical and mental ability, but we are all human. The problems we face may be overwhelming, but if we look deep within ourselves, we can still save humanity and Earth.’

Here are some alarming statistics (to put the pandemic in perspective) that many of us have been ignoring: 

Mother Earth has been speaking to us for a long time now, and COVID-19 is but a divine, merciless messenger calling us to reflect. I found this ‘Imagined letter from Covid-19 to humanity’ quite poignant, echoing the perspective that “We are not well. None of us; all of us are suffering”.

A theory that can situate and support us in moving forward (and which has greatly influenced my journey and, consequently the creation of Grow Still) is Theory U, developed by Otto Scharmer. Four years ago, I participated in the ‘Laboratory in Human Relations’, a class Eva Pomeroy, professor and  Social Innovator in-residence at Concordia, developed around his teachings. I distinctly remember sitting on the terrace of Cafe Shaika, early summer of 2016, doing my first assigned reading for the course, totally enveloped in the truth of what this theory states: 

The crisis of our time can be explained by 3 disconnections: 

  1. that of the self and self (the spiritual divide, displayed by suicide, poor mental health)
  2.  that of the self and others (the social divide, evident in war, unequal access to health/wealth/education, divorce, homicide)
  3. that of the self and the environment (ecological divide, evident in air & water pollution, extinction and decrease in diversity of fauna and animals, increase in natural disasters, and global warming) 

This crisis can be resolved through the ‘social technology of presencing’, a process of letting go of past patterns, deep listening, connecting to what the future’s calling us to do, and bringing it forth through mindful action. The book, and free online class, is backed by data collected from the 150 most successful leaders and entrepreneurs in the world. Scharmer put it together into a coherent, integrated theory that everyone can adhere to. For my final essay within the class, I concluded: 

‘I consider myself more open to the world. I see the bigger picture. Once I am at peace within myself, I can bring positivity to my surroundings. I believe in my ability to produce change in my work field in the future. I do not know exactly how just yet, but I know that I can and that I will. I will work on myself and in doing that, I will slowly find my path and ultimately do my part in producing collective transformational change in order to address the crisis of our time. My future self is telling me: ‘Follow your heart. Trust yourself. Don’t worry. Never stop learning. Be open, always.’

Grow Still seeks to contribute to resolving the crisis of our time by helping people, more specifically adults aged 18-32, begin the process of reconnecting to themselves (or in Theory U vocabulary ‘addressing the ‘spiritual divide’). 

I am excited to connect to others on this platform. Like an open love-letter, an invitation to peek into my thoughts and feelings, without expecting or waiting for a response. I hope this blog will inspire you, and that expressing my truth will allow me to feel less misunderstood… a feeling far too familiar for many of us.

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