Sunday, October 14, 2018

When Everything Changes

When I was younger, I believed change was inevitable. I welcomed it. I yearned for it. I thrived off it. But as time has passed, I've realized a few things - change is indeed inevitable. But I'm not as prepared for the changes. I don't welcome them the way I used to. And I certainly don't feel like I thrive from change. What happened to cause this? When did this become different?

I'm sure many of you can relate to the idea of change being scary (even if it is exciting sometimes). As we grow older, we find that change is not as comfortable as it may have been. The challenges that come with change seem to be magnified and the realizations that dawn appear more harsh. I've often wondered why, as adults, we lose our sense of adventure. We get comfortable in the "known" and fear the "unknown." The problem with this is that many times, what is comfortable is also what holds us back. It prevents us from growing - from becoming our potential rather than just having potential. We become stagnant.

I know people that have been doing the same thing for years. They work the same job, live in the same neighborhood, have the same friends, do the same thing every day and on weekends. Then one day, BOOM. Something happens in their lives to shift or break the pattern of routine - of every day "norm." I see these same people scramble to cope with the changes that are being rapid-fired into their lives. I see them get depressed, take up a new unhealthy coping mechanism, run, hide, and lash out. But what would happen if they would just embrace the change? What would happen if they looked at it as an opportunity to grow into a better version of themselves?

I'm not implying that ALL changes are easy to deal with. I am implying that all changes are opportunities for growth. Yes, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. Truth is, we learn most from the difficult changes and circumstances, not the easy ones. We learn most from making mistakes, not being good or right at something. Every good change is an opportunity to grow more in the path that we are currently on. Every bad situation is an opportunity to grow more in your soul. Let me give you an example. I have a friend. For the sake of this blog, we will call her Lorraine. Lorraine has been through a few abusive relationships. She was almost killed by her first husband and held captive with a weapon. Lorraine suffered verbal, emotional, and mental abuse. She was broken. She couldn't recognize herself in the mirror anymore and thought there would never be a way out for her. She felt worthless. She thought no one would want her or that she would not be able to survive financially. Then something happened...

Lorraine started going to school. She studied art and medicine. She was good at it. She got praise. She made new friends. She realized that she could have a life outside of abuse. She sought counseling. Her counselor taught her ways to be strong and realize how capable she was. She started planning her escape. It took 10 years, but she got away! She started thriving. And then she met her second abuser...

Luckily, she learned to get out much faster before things could get worse, but she suffered through three abusive relationships before she was able to break the cycle. But when she did, she had a new resolve and was determined never to live that way again. You see, what you don't know is that through the abuse, Lorraine had to learn to love herself again. She had to rediscover who she was and what she wanted in life. She had to eventually learn to forgive and let go for her own peace of mind. She had to learn to move forward - even and especially in the face of adversity. She had to learn to stand up for herself. She had to learn how to choose her battles and at the same time, fight for what she believed in. She had to learn to be truly, honestly, authentically herself. Without apology. She had to learn to be strong, smart, and brave. Granted, her situation is pretty extreme. My point is, most people would look at Lorraine's past and think 'poor thing! How horrible! Why didn't she leave sooner?' And many other judgmental comments. In fact, Lorraine used to say the same thing about herself. Then she realized the value of the lessons she learned. Not in spite of her situation, but because of it. 

What if we took a page out of the same book? What if we learned to thrive because of adversity, not in spite of it? What if we embraced all changes and looked at them as opportunities for growth? For new adventure? What if we let more things roll off our back and worried less about things we can't control? Can you imagine how interesting life might be?

Change is the only constant. Let us take the time to use these opportunities wisely.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Building Bridges

Someone once accused me of burning too many bridges. Truth be told, I did burn a lot of bridges, but for very good reasons. People often look at the lives of others and assume they know what's going on. The truth is, no one really knows your reality except for you.

I recently read the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. The interesting thing about this is that I was already doing most of the things the book mentioned because I had simply gotten tired of the "norm" and societal expectations. I just don't fit in with society. I've tried. I've spent my life trying. And then I realized why it wasn't working (but that's a whole other blog story). But back to bridges...it seems the older I get, the more I realize what kind of "bridges" I want in my life. Priorities have shifted, realizations have dawned, and I have simply outgrown so many things I couldn't keep up with the things and people that didn't contribute to my life. I'm sure many of you can relate.

What I find most interesting though, is that it is still hard to cut some ties. I'm not sure if this is out of comfort, emotional attachment, or some other element that I can't define. It's those moments of someone having been a friend for a long time versus whether or not they actually contribute positivity to your life. It seems people like "collecting" friends these days. I'm just not one of them. I believe people have real value and that is why having the right people in your life is so important.

This year has been full of growth in this department and there are bridges that I invested in much more than others. These are the people that I felt were truly important in my life, but also the people who invested as much into me as I was investing into them. After all, that's what it's about, right? But building bridges doesn't end with putting forth effort. It takes continuous work. Constant building. Otherwise, what's the point? So many people say they have been "busy," but the harsh reality is that people make time for who they want to make time for. Period. And if you're reaching out with little to no reciprocation, it's probably not gonna happen. At that point, do you move on or keep trying? It's not always cut and dry.

My main goal this year has been to become more authentically myself in every way - mentally, physically, spiritually. Considering I was already pretty authentic, this has been no easy feat. But it has taught me so much more about myself and other people than I thought possible. I began a journey that took me in a direction I never imagined. One that was very unexpected. I have no regrets. Naturally, with all things of this nature, bridges again must be burned or built depending on where your journey takes you.

Some things to ponder if you are looking for more depth in your journey:

  • Does your current path make you truly happy or does something feel like it's missing?
  • If you could be or do anything, what would it be? Why aren't you doing it?
  • Are you the reason that's holding you back?
  • Why can't you let go of some people/things?
  • Is social media taking up too much of your energy? 
  • Are you putting energy into things/people that don't reciprocate?
Change is scary. Taking a different path is scary. But it's necessary for growth to happen. Time to dive in.