It is so eye opening to see how people's attitude and mindset (including mine) shift when faced directly with some threatening major change. We tend to slow down, appreciate more, and spread extra love. I saw this transformation take effect on March 11th, 2020, as UMass and other colleges were buzzing with worry at the idea of their semesters being cut short. People were talking about and cherishing how this might be their last spin class at the Rec Center, last night out with friends, last Late Night at Berk and so on. But here's the thing: we never know when doing what we love will be our last time. So why do we choose to acknowledge that and live with more intention only when face to face with something that could take it away? It’s time we change our perspective on change.
Change is the only constant we have in life. It happens all the time. What I’m talking about might sound scary, but it’s really not. In fact, becoming aware of the transience of life will only bring about a powerful sense of gratitude. And there is definitely nothing scary about gratitude.
Becoming aware of the fact that change, big or small, can happen at any time is the first step. As someone who thrives with a routine, that idea definitely felt spooky to me at first. However, I learned that with this awareness, it allows us to live not in fear of change, but rather embrace it in confidence because we are grounded in gratitude. We should spend each day feeling and expressing gratitude for the people and moments we have in our lives, not solely when a major change comes into the picture. In gratitude, there is power and strength.
Once we are comfortable with the reality that change is the one characteristic of life we can undoubtedly count on, the next step is learning to flow with it. By not clinging too tightly to ideas or experiences or how you think things “should” be, you can be set free. For example, though I’m a junior, I haven’t had a very “normal” college experience. (But that’s a whole other story.) I am a huge advocate for feeling what you need, and so I allowed myself to grieve the lack of a sophomore year. But I ultimately chose to let go of that sadness and look forward with excitement. I took being home as a unique opportunity. I can also look back and understand how a lot of the change in my life has redirected me in a positive way and been a teacher, and so I trust that this change will do the same. Perspective is everything.
The more equipped we are to handle large changes in our lives, the more equipped we are to not sweat the small stuff either. Confronting my fear of change and learning to flow with it has saved me from so much stress and anguish over things that I simply cannot control.
I’ll leave you with a quote: “Everything passes. Nothing remains. Understand this, loosen your grip, and find serenity.” -Surya Das