Change is scary and uncomfortable on every level. Physical, emotional, and whatever else you can think of.
I know that as humans, once we have learned the basics, we are even built to resist change. At the same time, some of us strive for it. How confusing is that?
We love pattern, and consistency, and predictability because we are able to get things done easier and more efficiently. Who doesn't love efficiency? Emotionally we feel more accomplished and physically our brains and bodies don’t have to work as hard. This comes in handy in so many ways, I happen to think it is super helpful not having to relearn how to walk every morning.
Here is the thing though, choosing to resist change in our worlds because change is harder than following a routine can become harmful.
I met up with Charles (name change to share this story) for tea the other day. He's a great example of someone who chose easy and routine, over hard work toward things that might make him happy.
Charles worked as a bank teller, hated his job, went there everyday and fulfilled minimum expectations. Every night he went home alone, craft beer in hand, watching TV till he passed out. Charles had dreams of being a stand up comic, he used to write jokes and do open mic's all the time. Now he is stuck in this routine that is comfortable and easy, but he is also bored.
Care to guess what is holding him back from switching it up? This is what he tells himself: He could stop drinking, but since he has done it everyday for a year now, he just doesn’t “know” how to stop. He could start writing, but when he gets home he looks forward to turning the TV on.
Sure the fear of "if I do try and fail, it will be so embarrassing", isn’t helping, it's a little part of what is holding him back. But as we get older and habits become more ingrained, the brain and body are working more toward making the things we repeat things easier for us! Charles's body wants him to sit in front of the tv, drink in hand relaxing, not having to push himself to learn new things.
As Charles and I were halfway through our cups of tea, a toddler was “walking” by. Correction, she was learning to walk. She had her Mother’s pointer fingers in each hand, stumbling forward as if she were drunk. It was the perfect example for me to use at the time. I asked Charles to think about what it takes to walk. As baby’s we work on walking for at least 9 months to a year before any success! Even months before that our little legs are constantly moving to build up the muscles to be ready. Also, it's the only thing little guys have to worry about. There is no job, bills, or laundry to distract them from the one task of learning to walk. And although I can’t remember learning to walk, all of the straining, falling, and crying it looks really hard.
But that is just it! We need to strain, and be uncomfortable, and fall and cry. We need to step up to continue to grow. Hard work is always a part of the process. But through the work, the stuff you want becomes easier. Think about how much we have to think about walking now?
I don’t want you to going down a path that one day you look up and realize you forgot to be a person, a person who has interests, passions, and loves to have fun.
I want you to be honest about what brings you joy. Don’t accept what you have created for yourself as being “it”. Don’t be like Charles, because I know that is not who you are. Shit, it's not who he is! I know it isn’t easy to look at what "could be". You know it will take a lot of uncomfortable work to get there. I know it is scary and easier not to fight. I want you to fight.
I want you to fight because you are worth fighting for. You are dynamic, and funny, and, interesting. Your brain and your body are doing an amazing job at keeping you alive, don’t hand over control and decide to let it run on autopilot and determine your actions. How you work, how you love, how you spend your time.
I want you to fight because we are here for such a short time and you have so much to offer your friends, your family, and your community. You know what it takes to be a good person, a good friend, a good citizen. You can provide support and inspiration if you decide to keep showing up for yourself and keep trying.
Being honest with yourself isn’t easy. Look at Charles! Before we met for tea, he wasn’t even thinking about where he was. He shared his situation in regular conversation All I asked was "How are you doing, are you happy right now?" He had no intention of taking a hard look at his reality that day. When he did, it was hard for him see where he was.
I understand how scary it is to try to see where you are vs where you wanted to be. I also understand how important it is. There are times when it is damn near impossible to see ourselves for who we are and where we are. Like Charles, when we started our conversation his thought was, “I know I am not that happy but I have a steady job, I get to drink cold beer at night, I have no real responsibilities that stress me out. I do what I want when I want. It's not bad.” Taking a second look he realized he is bored at work, eats like shit, doesn't feel connected to anything important, and really misses being on stage.
This is what else I know. If you want more you are not alone, you can be strong, and you can be brave. There is no other explanation for how you got to where you are in the first place.
Here is what I want you to do. I want you to think about where your safe space is. Where do you find your strength? Where do you recharge? Who is there when you do it? Who are your cheerleaders? I want you to go there and tell them what you really want for yourself, how you want things to change, and see what happens.
PS If you want support with this, this is what I do... check out my services page.