Change is an intimidating word. Change can be forced. Change can be yearned for. Change can be necessary. Change can be unlikely. Change can be shocking, imminent, depressing, exhilarating, exhausting, monumental, irreversible, unavoidable. Change can be impossibly small. Change can be addictive.
The six letter word manifests itself in a plethora of ways. Change is different for everyone. It can come from within, slowly, over many years or it can occur instantaneously with no ability to turn back. It can live in both spaces simultaneously.
There are people who have an appetite for change and people who don’t. The funny thing about change is: it can’t be planned for or around. It can be poked at, pressured and pulled but regardless of the situation, it has a butterfly effect. It can be all-knowing, stubborn and not share a single word. It can be blind and hopeless.
Change is a conundrum. Change can make everything feel warped while you do nothing but stand still. Life after college feels like this for me. It’s forced change, exciting change, depressing change. These are only a few ways my life changed in the past couple years:
- I moved back home with my parents while most of my friends were still in school.
- I graduated college.
- I worked a strange mixture of part time gigs while applying for full time jobs.
- I accepted a salaried job and moved out.
- I moved in with my boyfriend.
- I started living with his puppy (and fell in love with the goofball).
- Most of my friends moved out of state.
- I made some new friends.
- My boyfriend proposed and we got engaged.
- I started grad school.
- I started two side jobs.
- I switched my grad program.
Conceivably everything in my life has changed. So why do I feel like I haven’t budged an inch?
Perhaps the conundrum lies in what type of change occurred. Maybe all the different types of change conspire to disguise progress as imbalance. It’s like a math equation where all the emotions never quite add up. It’s the question you spend all night pouring over on scratch paper only to eventually give up.
Scrap paper, change, imbalance.
My life isn’t perfect by any means but with one glance at that list, it’s hard not to be grateful for all the positive changes. While my life has changed in immeasurable ways, some of which were the best days of my life, there is still this thing—burrowed deep within me—insisting I’ve become stagnant.
That thing—that feeling that lives in the pit of my stomach—is changing too. I’m learning to listen when it’s loud, screaming at me something is wrong. Or to ignore it when it’s dull and constant. I’m reminding myself the dull feeling has always been there and probably always will be. I’m trying to accept we occupy the same physical and emotional space. We can’t always mutually benefit from the same type of change. We have to make sacrifices for each other.
I’m figuring out what that means for me as a person. It means, I might never reach that elusive state of fulfillment. Regardless of the present, my heart might ache over the past while I demand change for the future. I’m optimistic when I consider the possibility that someday we—the pit in my stomach and I—can grow strong enough to make choices. Maybe, just once, we can choose the road less travelled without insisting on building the entire thing ourselves.
That pit in my stomach and I have gone through everything together and we continue to evolve. We are always learning patience. We try to accept the changes I am capable of and the changes it demands are not always the same. We have to cooperate to sustain a long term partnership and try to pull our own weight. We continue to discover what aggravates each other and what doesn’t. We practice short term strategies, too. We engage in self care. We make lists to gain perspective. We are beginning to visualize where we’ve been and where we want to go.
Visualizing where we want to go isn’t always easy. It’s painfully difficult, actually. It takes time and scratch paper and more scratch paper and more time and patience. But we’re starting to listen to each other more than ever before and that in itself is an incredibly powerful, tiny victory.
I suppose I can add that to the list of positive changes, too.