Dealing with Life’s Big Changes

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”  – Karen Kaiser Clark

This post has been difficult to write for a multitude of reasons (i.e. writer’s block, work work work, more writer’s block), but I hope that it reaches you all in good health & company!

I had the wonderful opportunity to go to London to visit my close friends for spring break. It was one week I will cherish being with people I met the first day of college in a city so energetic, fascinating and generous. The experience was overall incredible, but made me think where all of us would be in five years or ten. Would we remember each other? Or would we be another forgotten voicemail or Facebook message? Adulthood means moving, changing, marrying, birthing, failing, surviving…

Change happens.

It’s often unnoticed, or it may simply be a slight nuisance. It’s sometimes uncomfortable, or excruciatingly painful. Once in awhile, it’s life changing.

But it’s also transforming. Sometimes I awake in the morning or I simply look out the window into the city and I realize I’m not the person I was the day before, or even a moment ago.

That realization brings me such pleasure, to know that I am becoming a better version of me than I was. The newness, the now-ness, the opportunities to continuously morph into who I want to be is, at moments, mind-blowing. I appreciate this sort of change.

Everything changes. But we forget this, constantly. That’s because it’s sometimes downright scary to think about change.

Sure, we like the good changes—we appreciate the little ones and celebrate the big ones. But the bad ones, none of us likes those, however small they may be or even how much we may wish them away.

We become irritated when a construction zone causes us to take another route to class. We get angry when people don’t do what they said they would do. We are deeply pained when people decide they no longer want us in their lives. We grieve uncontrollably and inconsolably, and understandably so.

When I think about it, I realize I am very attached to specific expectations, certain ways of being, and the people I love most dearly.

This attachment, while often pleasurable and a source of such happiness, also causes me to feel discomfort and pain, to act simply out of habit or from fear, and to worry and grieve.

Some changes are big.

One big change in my life has been leaving home and trying to support myself. Do you notice how I phrase this change in the present tense? I am still in the process of changing my reaction to this big change in my life, changing me. What will happen when I finally leave college? What are my plans?

Sure, the physical change happened quickly. I was all packed up and then we pulled out of the driveway. That change happened in an instant. Many changes do. But my change, my reaction to this change, has been gradual, and sometimes painful.

For a while now, though, I’ve seen both the positive and negative aspects of this change. It gives me so much pleasure to be able to live my life.

Still, it pains me not to be part of the everyday lives of my parents and my brother, to be with them more often, to love them in real-time, and to comfort them, really, to just be a family member.

Sometimes change happens instantly, and sometimes it takes time, a good time, and all in good time.

That’s okay. I simply try to be mindful of this truth: that everything changes. I practice accepting this. It brings me a little peace of mind and heart, at moments.

But attachment happens.

I’ve formed attachments in my life and they’ve caused me pleasure and pain. I’m learning to practice non-attachment. In the instances when I see the faintest glimmer of this non-attachment, I know that nothing is permanent.

Knowing this, even for an instant, reminds us to appreciate and to be grateful for the good times—and it helps us during the difficult times too. With non-attachment comes acceptance, even contentment.

But for the many moments, the most of our time that we are attached to things, ways of being, and the other beings we love, we will experience the full gamut of the pleasures and pains of this human existence—the good, the bad, and the unnoticed.

When changes are noticed, or become uncomfortable, or may even be life changing, try to ask yourself three little questions.

1. Can I see this change as an opportunity?

Is there something of value somewhere in this change? Can I find something within it, a take away from which I can learn? Will I take the opportunity I’ve found and adjust or adapt to this change, to change my life, to even change me?

2. Can I react to this change by changing myself?

What thoughts and feelings do I have? Can I let go of some of them? Which ones will I allow to go? Which will I choose to express? What thoughts, words, and actions will empower me to accept this change? How will I change?

3. Can I just be with this change until I am ready to change?

Sometimes that’s all we can do. Sometimes changes are so unexpected, so painful, and so uncontrollable, we simply have to muster up enough courage just to be. And that’s okay. Because, you know what? This will change too.

Because everything changes.

When it does, try to ask yourself these three little questions. It may take some time to answer them. And that’s okay.

What big changes in life have you experienced? How have these changes changed you? Are you still changing?

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