Yesterday my dad suggested I bring the cozy blue chair from my older brother’s room to my new apartment in August because “he’s not coming back.”
Those words echoed until I sat at my desk, alone in my room, and cried. My brother has his own apartment, his own life, in his own city a five-hour drive away. He’s not coming back.
I’ve never liked change. My bedroom walls remain the same yellow and purple floral design as when I slept in a crib. I’ve ordered only vanilla lattes at Starbucks since I started drinking coffee three years ago. Sometimes I find myself pushing food toward the center of a table or countertop so my dog can’t hop up and eat it – forgetting he passed away last October.
Everyone says “change is a part of life,” as if that’s the overlooked truth as opposed to the only fact we know for sure. We try to force ourselves to adopt this adapt-or-die mindset when obviously change isn’t simple. It deserves more than a demotion as something to “get used to.”
Not all changes entail popping a bottle of champagne, but that’s no reason to keep your negative sentiments bottled inside. The best thing you can do is talk to a friend or family member. Chances are, they’re facing a difficult change too. If not, they’ve been there.
So before I try giving advice on the ground I’m still trying to navigate, let’s raise our “usuals” and toast to us and our mutual fear of change: May we always know we’re never alone.
This time of year (of life, really) the BIG changes arrive the way a band of friends rolls up to a party: shamelessly barging in all at once, invited or not. This includes the changes driven by our own choices, which, while exciting, can also be, ya know, terrifying.
But there’s a whole lot of photoshop behind this unrealistic picture, starting with the illusion of permanence.
No change (no relationship, no career venture, no address) has to be permanent. We push ourselves in scary directions because the other option is to… what? Not move out and chase your dream job? That doesn’t mean you have to be hard on yourself, much less force yourself into anything. Your starting gate fear subsides with this realization: if you had the power to change into it, you’ll have the power to change out of it.
What about the changes we can’t control?
Befriending the worst case scenario can help. Accepting the hardest possible course of events could help everything along the way become a little easier. You might even find a glimmer of good in the change. If the worst case scenario of me moving to a different city to take a job that I’m not sure will work out is me getting fired, and I know that if I get fired I can just move back home, then I’ve already got a gameplay if things go badly. There’s no reason not to jump.
Know you’re a little tougher than you previously thought. My childhood friend Taylor Swift once told me (along with everyone else who ever purchased a physical copy of her second album, Fearless), “Fearless isn’t the absence of fear… to me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.” If you’re scared of change, that’s perfectly normal – but it doesn’t mean you’re not tough enough to pursue that change.
Lastly, hold on to those little comforts: the coffee order you can find at literally any Starbucks on the planet, the pictures of your childhood home to hang in your new apartment. Or if you’re anything like my roommate, hold tight to your favorite Disney blanket and watch the same reruns of The Office that always crack you up. Little loyalties have the power to simplify those heavier transitions into the adult world.
As for me, I’ll be taking comfort in my brother’s cozy blue chair.