On Accepting Change and Why it Can Be Difficult

Change and I have not always been friends. I remember when I was young, I would get upset every time my parents decided to change something around my childhood home: renovating the kitchen; tearing up the carpet to put in hardwood floors; painting the walls; rearranging the furniture. It was as though every little thing would bother me. It seems trivial, but I think in retrospect I was simply sensitive to my surroundings and hesitant to be around something I wasn’t used to. I remember being bummed out by the thought of moving to college and not being able to call up my best friend on a whim to grab coffee and drive around the cornfields at the outskirts of our hometown anymore. And, now, I sometimes avoid thinking about post-uni life when the year will no longer be conveniently organized with long summers and winter breaks. Despite the gradual unease and discomfort of change, there are plenty of aspects of it that make it worth enduring. 

As I have grown older, I have become more accustomed to change. By senior year I was ready to jump head-first into university life, and I made the big move across the ocean to attend St Andrews. Now, the thought of staying at home during summer with nothing to do is a nightmare. Part of my growing acceptance of changes stems from the act of simply growing up. However it can still be difficult. We all hit walls here and there, where taking that next step, or accepting what you have no control over, seems an insurmountable task. 

Fear of the unknown, or uncertainty, is one of the barriers in accepting change. It may feel like staring into a black void, where you have no control over what is going to happen, who you will meet, and your happiness, all of which can be daunting. Be it moving to a new city, applying for your dream job, quitting your job, ending to a toxic relationship, or changing a persistent habit, it is the uncertainty on the other side of taking initiative that can be frightening. As humans, we are naturally on edge when we are not in control of our lives. It comes down to basic survival – first and foremost, we need to ensure we have food on the table, a roof over our heads and money for the bills. When all of this becomes uncertain, we panic, and with good reason. 

There is one phrase that I reflect on often, especially in the current world climate.  It is impossible to plan ahead for more than two days, and political turmoil, more convoluted and incomprehensible than ever, permeates seemingly every aspect of our lives.  

Change is the only constant in life. 

When has anything ever been static in life? Our bodies fluctuate by the hour, our beliefs are influenced by our changing environments, the seasons change in a cyclical fashion, flowers bloom and die…The simplicity and obviousness of this phrase makes it seem trivial, but I find it sometimes hard to remember that life is all about change. We are constantly in motion, moving toward a new goal or a new direction, no matter how big or small, conscious or unconscious, necessary or unnecessary. 

Change is no menial task. Often, it requires deep reflection in order to understand it from a holistic perspective. Viewing change through narrow tunnel vision and neglecting to see the big picture is detrimental to how one will react to it once it arrives. Acceptance comes with an open mind, surety in yourself that you can handle what may be thrown your way, and a willingness to grow. After all, it is through the uncertainty and discomfort of change that we often grow the most.