I was seven years old the day I walked home from school to find an empty house, cleared of all it’s furnishings, the halls echoing back my voice as I shouted, “anybody home?” It’s a clip, just a celluloid sized snippet of a moment that I recall — sitting on that front porch, wondering where my family had gone and why no one bothered to tell me that they were moving to another house across town. Perhaps they did. Perhaps I forgot, as seven year olds are apt to do. This particular move was only the first of many moves, often at six or ten month intervals. In response to the transient life I was given, I learned a thing or two about adjusting to change.
For most people, change is scary– wheather it is changing jobs, or moving to a new city, or going back to school. It’s the storm cloud in the distance, the open chasm that looms over the edge of the cliff, sometimes it can feel as vast as the ocean with no land in sight. Some people will do anything to avoid the fear of the unknown and stay in miserable situations like a dead-end job, a loveless marriage, or an over-mortgaged home far too long, simply to avoid what lay on the other side. The devil you know is far better than the one you don’t…as my mother would say.
Sometimes change is thrust upon us– like every time my family moved to a new town. I was not consulted, just told every six months or so, “Ok, pack it up Franny, we are moving again”. Or if your partner decides to leave or you get fired from your job. This particular kind of life altering change is tough to take because you did not choose it. You are told that it is time to get going. You haven’t had time to prepare. So this type of change feels extremely daunting.
The second type of change; the one I have begun to revel in over the past few years with my renewed understanding that life is so fleeting, so precious, so ridiculously brief; is change that is self-initiated. This is the type of change that makes me try new things like a jewelry business, or starting a bakery and makes me continue to stretch the limits of what my body can do physically by upping the ante from sprint triathlons to olympic distance races.
What usually happens is that we stay in situations far too long out of fear and then a change is thrust upon us. But what would happen if we had initiated the change ourselves, before it got so bad, before the house was in foreclosure or before the boss was yelling at us on a daily basis? If we had initiated the change ourselves and not waited for someone else to do it for us, then not only would the outcome not be so bad–it would be amazing.
It’s taking that first leap that is so very difficult. Deciding that that’s it, something has to change. I deserve a great life, an exciting life, a happy life. And trusting that although it may be tough for a while, you will always land on your feet. Somehow, my father instilled that in me. I have always known that I will be ok. That life will throw some crap my way but deep down I have always been confident that I will be fine. I believe I have many guardian angels–but that’s a blog for another day.
Sometimes it’s easy to initiate the change, but it is the second step that is hardest. Maybe it’s easy to start the ball rolling, but once it goes over the cliff, chances are you can’t get it back. And that is ok. The other aspect of accepting change is not to look back. Just keep moving in a forward direction and eventually you will get to a place where you are happy and fulfilled.
Because what is the alternative to change? Stagnation. Living without moving forward. Where there is no change there is no learning, no growing. In my constant quest to figure out why on earth I am here, I now understand that my only goal is to be the best person I can possibly be and while striving for that, to help as many people along the way as I possibly can. I can’t do that if I am stuck in rut. I can’t do that if I don’t challenge my goals on a daily basis. I can’t contribute to society unless I am consistently trying to change myself or my world for the better. It’s an on-going process and I don’t feel as if I am even close to where I should be…which makes me want to continue to push things a little further.
There is one more major factor that must be in place, when trying to change your world. You have to have friends who support you. I am lucky enough to have some of the greatest people in my life who constantly support me, encourage me, root me on. They are always available for tea or a phone call, or a late night chat–even when they are exhausted and probably have to get up early in the morning. Without these beautiful souls in my life I am not sure change would come as easy for me. If you are lucky like me and have these people in your life, hold on to them. These are the ones who will tell you that no matter what changes you make, they will be there for you–even if it means sailing out onto the vast ocean with you or scaling the chasm. Even if they think you are crazy. And that’s ok, because sometimes what seems like a crazy idea is exactly the change that the world was looking for.