The day my husband of 20 years told me that he no longer wanted to be married, I knew my life was being turned upside down. That event sent me trough a wave of life changes. Divorce, move, and job change were just a few of the outwardly, visibly changes that I undertook during that period. I was going through as many if not more changes on the inside as I learned to let go of the fear, work on myself, and emerge a healthy and whole person on the other side of the divorce. I will be the first to admit, I am not the best at embracing change. Yet life happens, and with life comes change. Some change we whole-heartedly choose, and other times it is thrust upon us in unexpected ways. Change can be subtle, and other times the change can cause a seismic shift in our lives.
Change happens all around us every day. My students have never used a type writer or a phone attached to a wall. Last week I bought new pillows for my couch. Changes that are subtle, small, and develop over time, we tend to take in stride. But the big changes? Wowza! They can throw us for a loop!
There are some big changes in life that we look forward to with great anticipation and excitement. Marriage, retirement, a job promotion, a new baby, graduations – these are just a few of the changes that often bring us a sense of excitement. Then there are the changes in life that can strike fear into our hearts. Divorce, job loss, illness, job change, dealing with an unhealthy habit, or moving to a new location.
Viewed as good or bad, change of any kind can bring about apprehension because change brings us to an unknown. We all get comfortable in our daily routines. We know what to expect, we have the drill down. Change by its very nature alters that course. Facing the unknown can be fearful.
Whenever we go through a transformation we also suffer a loss. In order to move into the new, we must say good-by to the old. Even when the change is embraced, we are saying goodbye to a former way of life, a job, neighborhood, home, or routine.
Change brings about fear and loss. Sounds scary!
When you think of change, think of the life cycle of the butterfly. Before the butterfly opens its wings to fly it must travel through the stages of egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and then adult. Once the egg hatches we have a caterpillar that needs to eat and nourish itself. During this time it is readying itself to make that transformation. Then the caterpillar encloses itself into a chrysalis. In this dark place a lot of work is happening as the caterpillar is going through a massive transformation and changes from caterpillar to butterfly. At last we see the emerging butterfly in its full beauty.
Change is about much more than the “butterfly moment.” It is about the process. You need to see change as a process that includes readying yourself – learning new habits, taking classes to learn new skills, taking a job change to better your position, or saying goodbye to a relationship that was not healthy. Then there is the hard work of transformation – meeting new expectations, practicing better habits until it is second nature, being honest with yourself, accepting your reality, making yourself vulnerable and putting yourself out there. Finally, you then have the ta-da “butterfly moment” of realization. You have arrived. All of these steps are necessary. Steps that include fear, loss, apprehension, hard work, excitement, confusion, trepidation, and elation. That is change.
Embracing change means accepting the process. When you learn to embrace the process, you will be more comfortable with all the parts – even the scary parts that change brings.
“Change…We don’t like it, we fear it. But we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow. Anybody who tells you it doesn’t, is lying. But here’s the truth: Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes, change is good. Sometimes, change is… everything.” — Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Grey’s Anatomy, Season 4: A Change Is Gonna Come