Today I had brunch with some friends (coworkers from my old school). All three of us are at new schools, having moved on from UPA. All of a sudden, one of my friends turned to me and said, “Sara, you’ve changed.” and, as if anticipating my rebuttal, quickly followed up, “and not in a bad way.” *smiles*
I have changed – whether the change has been good or bad – it made me happy to hear it, because change is HARD! Making the kinds of choices which lead to you being happier and healthier – those types of changes do not happen overnight. At the end of the day, I want to be someone that I am proud to be – and it takes a lot of mindfulness to work towards that goal.
There’s a quote by Henry Ford which cautions, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” I could literally litter this entire blog entry with beautiful and inspiring quotes about embracing change (and I probably will), but the thing is, human beings are hardcore reticent about change – and it does not seem to matter whether it is change for the better, or change for the worse.
I don’t think we mean to be #antichange, I think it just happens naturally, as a result of being creatures of comfort, or like I like to say, embracing “the devil you know”.
I remember just getting the hang of the typewriter when the word processing unit came out, being proud of my cassette collection, when CDs were introduced, and cleaning out Blockbuster’s 5 for $20 VHS clearance, when DVDs started taking up room on the shelves.
Looking back, I remember that with each change, I resisted. No better than a toddler throwing a tantrum, I balked at the discomfort, unfamiliarity, and differentness of every new change.
I remember early in my career as a teacher, I was sitting in my principal’s office, and she said, “Sara, if you’re going to remain in education, you’re going to have to do a better job going with the flow.” Storming off in a huff, I muttered to myself, ‘We’ll see about that.’
But, she was right. The more uptight and unyielding I was, the more resentful and frustrated I became. It was this really ugly cycle – and I repeated it, over and over and over again, for years, before the light bulb went off.
I would LOVE to say since that day, I have embraced change like a BOSS and have helped others to understand and appreciate change – but, alas, I am still human, and can still get bogged down by feelings of vulnerability and discomfort.
*insert Serenity Prayer here*
For example, almost two weeks ago, I was approached about taking over two sections of AP Language. There I was, in second hour, pressed to make a rather big decision quickly. On the one hand, AP LANG!!! *screams internally and externally with excitement* …. on the other hand, plagued with doubts and uncertainty and regret.
“Do what you’ve always done… get what you’ve always got.”
So, I accepted the challenge, and unwittingly thrust my students into the same chaos of change that I had to go through. Semester One students were devastated. Semester Two students were elated. It was an emotional tsunami for everyone. I was feeling shame for wanting what I wanted, knowing that my semester one students would be hurt at the fact that I was no longer their teacher, but I had to give myself a break – this was an exciting opportunity and I was going to make the most of it!
An Instagram account (@anisahamat_) posted a quote by Maya Angelou that made me pause, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Sometimes change happens in plain view and everyone can see and appreciate the struggle and sacrifice you went through. But for most of us, change is something that is quiet and under the radar. The process is no different, but you carry the weight of both the struggle and the change on your own. I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to.
Chimamanda Adichie, in her TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” shares that “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize“ (17:24). When you’re struggling, shame keeps you quiet – and, as a result, you risk your chances of succeeding. (I recently shared a post about shame on my Instagram account inspired by my reading of Brené Brown‘s book The Gifts of Imperfection. Check it out!) So share your stories of struggle and watch each other flourish!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a world where SO much is OUTSIDE your control – focusing on YOU and what you CAN change, is a better use of your time and energy, then allowing the illusion of control to shackle you to a life of bitterness and resentment. Choose wisely.
Thanks for reading.