Chapter 69 in Your Invisible Toolbox is titled, "Why is Change So Hard?" and it discusses the various types of change one might expect to experience in their lifetime. It introduces the notion that no matter the changes, welcomed or unwanted, there is an element of loss as well. This idea, along with others, are offered in order to pinpoint why change can be so difficult and answer the question the title of the chapter proposes. And yes, it is a rhetorical question, but in my best attempt to answer it anyways, my guess is that change is hard because change is not fun; one might even go as far to say that change sucks.
But change still happens. It is inevitable and we all go through it. A lot of change and loss came with my first experience at college. In fall of 2017 I moved into a dorm and started classes at a private college two and a half hours away from home only to end up back home one semester later, feeling lost and stuck.
Reading this chapter allowed me to look at the months I spent away at this college and the months after I had come back home in a different light. It allowed me to pinpoint why, personally, change is hard for me and also make sense of why coming home from a place I was ready to leave was challenging too.
Readers are first asked to reflect on recent changes and try to identify the elements of loss in them. Moving away from home and going to college marked a lot of change and some loss. Once I was all moved into my dorm, I was faced with adjusting to college living. Using shower shoes and eating dining hall food, the rigorous academics and doing my own laundry were all things that came along with making the big change to college from high school and living at home. Because of these changes, I ended up losing my sense of comfort and familiarity; I was in a new place surrounded by new people and it was intimidating.
The book tells us that it is common for us to miss the familiar; we may go to great lengths in order to hold on to the things, people, and places we already know because we do not wish to move on.
My efforts to hold on to my old life could hardly be categorized as "great lengths" but I did go home a lot during the semester. Perhaps we do not like change and are reluctant to move on because we know there will be loss along the way.
But we have to move on at some point and this chapter includes a unique approach for readers to recognize change and the losses that come along in order to do so.
"Stop, pause, and dignify the ending" in order to be able to "celebrate where you came from and what you've achieved... Mourn the past - even the parts you are happy to leave behind."
Stopping is when an action, event, or process comes to an end. This chapter challenges our traditional thinking that change begins with something new. However, Your Invisible Toolbox argues that change, rather, starts with an ending. Something must come to an end before something new can begin; the end of something is what triggers change.
Once I made the decision to come back home, I became occupied with filing paperwork in order to leave, packing up my dorm room, and studying for finals. I was working towards getting to the end of my time at this college and preparing to go back home.
Pause is when a speech or action is interrupted or stopped temporarily. All of the plans and preparation I was making to come back home prevented me from pressing pause and because of this I was not able to fully process my emotions. All I knew was that I was ready, even excited, to leave but this prevented me from being able to think or plan for beyond the actual day I would leave for good and how I would feel when I came back home.
Things never seemed to stop even after I got home and started at community college. I was not able to fully grasp all of my emotions right away; everything else had to pause before I could. Once things did slow down, I was finally able to analyze everything and process my situation. I began to look and identify my emotions towards where I was at in my life. Dignifying my situation allowed me to recognize the losses that came along with being back at home.
At first, I was a ball of negative emotions- I was sad, angry, frustrated- and truly crushed that my college experience had not gone according to plan. I felt lost and unaccomplished. I had welcomed the change of coming back home, but lost my sense of accomplishment and purpose when I did. I saw my situation as a personal failure, like I was falling short of my own expectations and goals.
But we must take the time to process our emotions - to dignify our emotions - in order to learn and grow. We must look at how we feel towards our changes and losses in order to determine where to go next. What will we make of our changes and losses?
Once we dignify, we can celebrate. I got tired of feeling stuck, so I worked to get myself unstuck. Once I dignified my feelings about leaving school I was able to see my first crack at college as a moment of personal growth rather than a personal failure. I celebrate and embrace this recent part of my life because it allowed for me to hone in on what I wanted out of my time at college as well as get more specific with my career. Sure, it was an expensive way to figure it all out, but I did nonetheless.
This giant change in my life has prepared me for the other changes that are sure to follow. Deciding whether or not to come back home was a big decision and was the first major decision I had to make completely on my own. But it made me feel more in control of my life and it pushed me to be more independent. Everything that transpired from my first semester in college to has now led me to Tero and that is definitely worth celebrating.
It is not enough to stay stuck and not tackle the emotions you have about the changes and losses you are currently experiencing or have in the past. In order to grow we must stop, pause, and then dignify before turning it into something worth celebrating. We must recognize where we have been in order to know where we are headed.
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