“The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus
Not only is that how many essays started in high school when we were doing Change as a topic, but it’s also true. Changes are constant, consistent and certain. Changes are big, small, simple and complex. We probably undergo thousands of changes that we don’t even notice. The last month or so has been a ‘period of change’ (that’s what people call it, right?) for me.
First, I got a new job. This is exciting and horrifying all at once. I’m very much settled into my current, part-time job. I know the people, the systems, what to expect. I’m happy and comfortable. My new job will be full-time, it will be with a whole new team and all new environment. I’m shitting myself.
Second, university started. I’m on my third degree – wait, it’s not as impressive as it sounds. I keep chopping and changing, so really, I’m on my third attempt at a degree. This one, I’ve convinced myself, I will actually complete. But with full-time work and part-time study, this is making me nervous.
Thirdly, at the ripe old age of nearly-twenty-four, I got braces. If you want to talk about pushing comfort zones, I don’t think I’ll be comfortable for the next year or so. If someone offers to shove a whole bunch of metal into your mouth for a few thousand dollars, definitely consider it carefully.
Since change is such a sure thing, we need to know how to deal with it. There are some changes that are easy to deal with. For example, recently my favourite Mac’n’Cheese brand changed their packaging. I didn’t realise this for months because I would walk into the aisle, scan the shelves and walk out, having not recognised my brand. After weeks of frustration (I really like Mac’n’Cheese), I decided to go with the ‘other’ brand that was there. Turns out there’s “NEW LOOK” written very clearly on the packet. I have now adapted to that change. Other changes, however, are no so easy to adapt to. Moving towns, losing a loved one, break ups, they’re all big changes, and changes that can throw us into utter turmoil.
So. How do we cope with change? Well, I cope with it like this:
Crying, trying to get out of the change, flatly refusing to change, then, after many renditions of these, finally, accepting the change. And mostly, once the change occurs, I just deal with it. I’ve moved over seas to live four times. Each time I didn’t know what to expect, where I would live, or what it would be like. I didn’t know if I would make friends, or if I could easily keep in contact with friends back home. But I just kind of picked up the routine and dealt with it. If I had to name one skill, it’s that I’m pretty good at going with the flow.
Although, I have to be honest. With me, it’s sort of like getting caught in a current. I will struggle, flail and try to get out with all my strength. Then at some point I’ll realise I’d be much better off to not do that. Next thing I’m kicked back, a cocktail in my hand, just watching the scenary going passed.
I think most people’s reaction to change is fear. The unknown is a scary thing. My new job is something I’ve never done before. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t know if I’ll get along with the people I work with. I don’t know if I’ll like it. I don’t know how I’ll cope. I don’t know if it will make studying even harder.
But you know what? I didn’t know any of that about my current job. In fact, I was 99.9999999% sure I couldn’t do my current job. I was so sure I couldn’t. But I could. I can. I do. I didn’t know if I’d get along with the people I work with. And I didn’t get on with all of them, but with most I do. In fact, today I spent most of my time at work laughing and joking with people. I’m having a going-away party tomorrow and I realised how many of the people who had once been collegues are now friends. I hated my job at first. Everything was scary and overwhelming. I didn’t know how or have the confidence to manage relationships when they got confrontational. I remember the first time I got yelled at over the phone. I froze up and later cried. And cried. And cried. But now people get mad at me, and I’m like “Sure, I suck, I’m the worst, is there anything else? No? Cool, have a good day.” *click*
I think back to that time, how scared I was, how shy I felt, how everything, even outside work, seemed scarier. I didn’t use to be able to strike up a conversation with people I didn’t know, but now I can. In fact, I had four conversations about the weather with four different people today, and that’s a slow day. I can look strangers in the eye and joke around with them. I still get shy and awkward sometimes, but if the me before this job could see me, she would be amazed. And she should be very proud.
I know that starting this new job will be hard. But I also know that I can adapt. I’ve grown up in a tumultuous house, at best. I had a hard time in school. I’ve had shitty relationships, and gone through fine weather friends. I’ve struggled badly with mental health, self-harm and suicide. And I’m still here. And if I can do it, then there’s no way you can’t.
I always wish there was a step-by-step guide to these kind of things. Going Through Change for Dummies or something. But I think it’s mostly just taking care of yourself and believing in yourself. And if you can’t, doing it anyway. After all, we can’t escape change, might as well embrace it.
Image credit: https://www.tes.com/lessons/vNa25x2u0apeIg/3-3-wind-direction-and-wind-speed