To change or not to change . . .

-Bobbi Lu –

-Susie Q –

“No one ever really changes.”

“A tiger cannot change its stripes.”

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

These adages fall on the side of “no change is really possible.”

“Fail forward.”

“We learn best from our mistakes.”

“Change comes from our struggles.”

These thoughts fall on the side of “change is possible.”

So . . . is one right? Either we can change or we can’t? I’ve been thinking this over ever since the nation jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to unseat a politician, who decades ago did something on the server end of the stupid spectrum. And while, yes, I abhor what he did, I had to wonder – is that who he is now? I wondered that because so many of his (former) supporters all were quick to point out how shocked they were. How this was not the man they knew. So, ok, that seems plausible. In fact, I am definitely different now from even 5 years ago. But it started me wondering – if he is a great guy now, a “good” person, as it were, should he have to resign? Apologize – yes. Perhaps lead some initiatives on the issue and how to address it and create . . . well . . . change. But, has he changed and grown from who he was when he did this stupid college-aged act? Isn’t that what we want from people? If we don’t allow them this, then what the heck is all the teaching and preaching about? Why even bother if we won’t allow that people can change?

Now, I think there is truth in the adages listed at the beginning of this rant – but I do mean all of them. It is hard to change. Not all of a person changes – not all at once – not all the time. But we do change and we grow into “newness” over time. I mean, can you imagine if we never changed out of those dreaded teenage years!?

So, is it that we crucify others in order to make ourselves look shiny and bright by comparison? Hmmm – are we afraid of change? We demand change, but not if we can see it publicly, or is it that we demand it so we can see that we created it – but not that we actually want to change ourselves? We’re fine, right? We aren’t the problem we are fighting against.

It seems that we ourselves can point out how others must grow, adapt, change – but do we ever point at ourselves, in earnest? Not in platitudes. And, if the change occurs but not in the way we wanted, demanded, envisioned, then do we allow it? Count it? Try to accept it? Hmm . . . I’ve got no answers on this. See, one of the ways I am changing is to stop trying to have an answer to every question, and instead, sometimes just listen to other’s thoughts on the question, or ask a question myself, or just allow myself to wonder about it? I feel that I learn more when I think and when I listen – not when my mouth is spouting out platitudes to fill the empty air. What a change.

We are resistant to change, threatened by change, scared to death of change. But, the problem is, we change. Think back to ten years ago. What were you like? I was hot mess, struggling to stand up and own my worth. Time changes us, circumstances change us. The people we spend time around change us. So perhaps the question ought to be why on earth are we all so afraid of change?

People ask: can we change?

I think of this question as the one that dissatisfied people ask in their relationships. Of course people can change, look at what happens when they get a new job, get a life altering disease, lose a friend or family member, have a child, make new friends. All of these things change you. This question is asked when we wish that we could influence others and make them become what we most wish they would be.

Do we allow others to change? It is safer to assume that people will be exactly who you think they are forever. It hurts when people act differently than you expect. When you leave to travel for a longer period than just the traditional American 5 days on a beach (oh this will be a future topic…), you meet new people, try new things, experience life in a different way. You can’t live your life the same way on the opposite side of the world with a different daily schedule and a different mindset, different people, a new city, and different daily reality. I won’t go to New Zealand and experience a day like I would in my middle sized US city. Perhaps this is why travel is valuable. It shakes you up. Changes your perspective. Scares you. Pushes you. Challenges you and then it changes you. You come home and everyone else is the same except that they learned to live life without you. They made changes too, but your changes are the ones that you have to deal with, your changes are the ones that are directly affecting the way that thoughts roll through your head. We are afraid of the changes that we see and we try to keep people safely in their boxes. It’s terrifying to be open to the possibility that people are changing in front of our eyes, today, as you read this. You are changing and that is scary.

But consider it in a different light: what if today you read something, or meet someone or try something new that rocks your fucking world? What if today something tiny happens and it plants the seed for a little bit of change that grows and flourishes over time. Seeing change within yourself as an adventure, as something to celebrate seems like a positive way to experience change. And call me a naive optimist, but I want to experience life with a childlike joy, with fresh eyes, and an openness to change. I want to see the people in my life change and grow and become the next version of themselves. It is dangerous to view people as stagnant. It doesn’t serve us to say that people don’t change.

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