As a volunteer at Life Crisis Services, they are always reminding us that "change hurts." That it's difficult for people to change, no matter how difficult their current situation may be. It's scary to take new paths and try new things, especially when the old ways are so well tested. Because even though the current way of doing things might not be working for us, at least we know the outcome; we know how this goes, even if it's less than ideal.
I really feel that: the difficulty of change, the anxiety it can produce. Even when it's new and exciting, there's always a level of risk as well. I've been changing a lot over the last five years since I've moved to St. Louis, and the truth is it probably started further back than that. Since about the age of 20, I have been taking steps to keep myself on a steady path forward. It hasn't always been clear in outcome but I've always strived for progress, however that might look.
And I feel that I've largely been successful; I've educated myself, found new jobs, made new friends and relationships. I've grown in a lot of ways and hope that I am continually doing so, moving forward not back. But with this change has also come struggle, not only in the effort that I've put into things like advancing my education or career, but also in adapting to my new self and new way of living. It sounds easy, since I am the one who has been making the majority of choices for myself. What is there to adapt to besides the choices I've elected to make? But the truth is, change and growth also requires reintroduction; it demands that you get to know your self again and again, relearning your values and needs with vigilance. Because, as you grow, you change in a lot of ways that you don't even notice. Sometimes you stop and realize that your self-concept no longer matches who you really are.
I've found that to be true for myself, lately. I caught myself saying, "But is this decision really me?" And the answer to my question has often been both "yes" and "no." No, my choices haven't been in line with who I've been, with the old concept of who I am and what I want out of life; I'm also not that person anymore. I've been growing fast enough that I hadn't noticed until I stopped myself to ask "What is it that I value? What is it that I need?" Only then could I see that my new life choices were not in line with who I had been but with who I want to be. Through my choices, I am actively reshaping myself (my self) every day, then learning what matters to me and what does not from the outcome of those choices. It is life as method.
So when I hear "change hurts," I get it. I get that sometimes you're not ready to let go of who you have been and that it is painful, being stuck between who you were and who you want to be. There's nothing wrong or shameful about it; it's how we grow. We grow by deciding what hurts less: being stuck in a self-concept we no longer identify with or embracing a new way of living that includes delving into the unknown, deep inside yourself, and seeing what happens.