by Priscilla Kwateng
Student at University of Michigan Ann Arbor
It’s funny how change comes in many forms. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive, negative, or neutral change, there’s still that bubble of anxiety that resides in the pit of our stomachs whenever it comes around. It’s something we all have to live through at some point. The control that we thought we had over our lives seeps through our fingers like sand when some external force confronts us.
The challenges of this pandemic are testing myself and many of my friends. The truth is, I don’t have a surefire method of handling change in every situation. However, I hope to provide some insight based on my own experiences.
My personal history
I used to hate change. Like, a lot. I forget whether some traumatic experience ingrained this sentiment or if it was some childhood decision, like my refusal to eat any vegetables. I just remember feeling as if change was always this pitiless tornado that crashed through my life.
The aftermath would be so cold, and I could never imagine the warmth until it finally returned. I couldn’t imagine why I would want to uproot anything in my life. Everything was so friendly and familiar–most of the time. Still, even when the familiar wasn’t very friendly at all, at least I knew what it was and how to navigate the maze.
Things became a problem
I kept myself busy shielding and barricading my life from change, trying to keep my comfort zone perfectly preserved. As I did this, I discovered that I was actually eroding my sense of self. The surroundings I was in, the habits I kept up, and the people around me were purposely sabotaging me under a pristine facade. I had seen the red flags all the way, but it hadn’t dawned upon me that I didn’t have to navigate through life the way I was used to. It felt like I had no options, and I was convinced that the structure of my life and identity were predetermined by fate when it really had been determined by others.
My adamant effort to stay in my space of comfort was not keeping me safe. It was holding me and many of my closest loved ones back. I had been stewing in an environment that was rooted in tradition, believing that there was a place for everyone and a certain way to do things. Anybody that dared to fall out of line would be punished. And of course, some had much more freedom in their roles than others.
The same people who didn’t want me to move forward were going backwards materially and spiritually. They aspired to be greater, but were not ambitious enough to step outside of the box. They loved that life was this rigid circle. Unfamiliarity greatly upset them. And when they peeped a person or an element that was going to bring a much-needed change, they stomped it out. Nothing grew or flourished. I asked myself, is this a life? And I decided to finally make that change.
Making a change
I cut off many relationships, transformed many of my habits and hobbies, and took steps to push myself closer to my goals. I’m just surprised I didn’t cut all my hair off while I was at it. This was a period of time that both liberated me and left me in shambles.
I couldn’t tell whether it had been the first time in a long while or my first time ever embracing change like I did. Then I realized that this is what I feared. I had lost a great deal of what I believed to be reality. What was the point of trying to barricade myself against the inevitable? How did I fail to notice the ground trembling beneath my feet? I should’ve realized long ago that the foundations behind me were fragile and bound to crumble.
The thing about change is that once it makes an appointment with you, you either show up or it does.
Change is inevitable, no matter how much we resist. We do have choice and control in such situations. We have choice and control in how we adapt to change. Whether we find ourselves free or distraught from the change that has occurred, we will also find growth. With this, I’ve been gifted with an odd but great sense of peace. Life keeps moving, and I’m grateful to keep moving with it.
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