How We Deal With Change


Most people hate change. Even though change is inevitable, there is something instinctual about being human that cautions even the bravest and most flexible of us, to treat change prudently. I’ve been watching Mad Men a lot lately. Having heard quite a bit about it from colleagues and friends, I finally got around to seeing what the fuss was all about.  (I discovered in the last year that but for one television show, Scandal, I am better off binge watching shows.) And if there’s one thing that Mad Men has really got me thinking about – it’s about how much things change.

Sometimes I wonder how much I’ve really changed. When I think of who I was in college and who I am now, there is such a contrast. And I only graduated just a little over two years ago. But when I think of who I was when I was twelve, I do see some changes. But some of the things that I was afraid of then still frighten me. I’m still not completely sure what my vocation should be and where it should be. I still struggle with telling people I need them and being vulnerable with them. Whereas in college, I was faking a lot of confidence; I wanted to be liked by all the “right people.” Now I know that I’m confident about most things even though I’m still sometimes paradoxically outgoing and shy. I’ve changed in some ways and in some ways, I’ve stayed exactly the same.

I think this is true for most of us. Changing is really, really, hard. Maybe most of us just grow up more than we actually change. Or maybe growing is akin to changing. But I think mostly that many of us are forced to change because life doesn’t give us much of a choice when it comes to change. Our thinking, our ways of doing things, the place that we live, and the people around us – those things change. And maybe we don’t do ourselves any favors by trying to hold onto what we think we know. Because what we think we know is also always changing too. And this is so apparent when you’re young but it’s also a lot easier to accept. Even though change is always hard, it gets harder as you get older.

I think this is why I’ve always felt compassion for the elderly. When I think of the amount of change that people go through in their lifetime; by the time one reaches old age, it must be tough to bear. Change just seems like the world is spinning around you and you have no control but to hold onto all the stable and certain things that are still standing. And to trust that the new and different things that do appear while the world is spinning, will someday not be so unfamiliar.

We’re told that change is the law of life and so it is. Whether we think it is good or bad sometimes becomes insignificant. I think what we need is to be attentive to whether we are accepting it or refusing to face the reality of change. Maybe I am too vague but more often than not, I think change itself is vague. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. Things change even if they change slowly.  And if we are on the subject of good or bad, well, I don’t think that all change is good and I don’t think all change is bad. But I know for certain that change isn’t concerned with my opinion or yours.

Change can bring uncertainty whether it’s people or places or things that we used to know well. And change can bring hope for the rectifications that we often need to go through individually, and as a collective. But above all, change forces us to make a choice about who we are when it arrives. And we never know if we’re making the right choice or not. Humility, courage, and wisdom are needed whenever change is imminent. I believe these are the virtues that are needed to face the challenges that change inevitably brings. Because as a wise man once said, “To live it to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.”

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image – Jochen Spalding