I always detest it when people say cheerfully, “Change is good!”
I mean, change is very subjective. How can we possibly assume that all change is good?
Personally, there are a lot of changes going on in my life right now, and yesterday my head nearly popped off and rolled itself around on the ground at all the madness.
Firstly, my parents have decided to put our house up for sale and move us into an apartment. They say home ownership is becoming too costly, they’re getting older and mowing the lawn and plowing the snow is not as easy as it looks.
Secondly, one of my sisters and I are on the outs. The last time we had a dispute it lasted three years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one followed suit.
Lastly, I’ll be attending a new campus this coming September. After spending the last four years familiarizing myself with the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, I’m afraid of petty things; where I will park my car, whether I’ll find the washrooms easily or have an accident in the hallway, and whether the doors are push, or pull.
While all of these changes seem manageable, for some reason they seem to have been interfering with my life a lot lately.
Yesterday, to avoid my head popping off, I decided to go to my old elementary school to take a walk around one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. The houses that fill the tree-lined streets are just beautiful. They’ve got big bay windows with beautiful panes and decorative doors, and long front porches that I would love to sit and drink tea on.
But when I turned into the parking lot, I saw my old school being bulldozed. As I exited my car and looked at the pile of concrete that had once been the place I made amazing memories, I had to answer one question about my resistance to all the changes going on.
What’s the real problem?
As I began walking, one foot in front of the other, step by step, I realized that the problem wasn’t that I was going to have to make small talk with people I did not know in the elevator until I got to my floor. I realized that it wasn’t about the fact that my sister didn’t care to speak to me, or that I would have to face the possibility of the door not opening if I leaned on it.
I realized that the problem was that I was going to have to grow up. And I mean really grow up.
Through all of this, my partner has repeatedly told me that I need to let things go.
“But how?” I sobbed to him with tears and boogers streaming down my face.
This was the question I would have to answer if I wanted to enter the next phase of my life with grace and dignity. I would be 23 years old in exactly 8 months and I had a lot of changes to make.
As I continued to walk, I felt the sun on my skin. Even though it was setting, it was still bright enough for me to feel the warmth of it touch me. And it felt really good. The warmer it felt, the more I was able to really understand the root of my emotions.
As I walked, I realized that I wasn’t upset we were selling the house. I knew it would be so much less of a burden on my parents. I had thought about this idea a hundred times over, more concerned with their well-being than waiting on an elevator. I realized that instead, I was upset that they hadn’t asked me about how I felt about it.
This was a good sign. It meant that, sure, I was an adult now, and wanted to be a part of our family’s decision-making instead of just dragged along in whatever worked best. Despite them being the parents and not really having to run anything by me at all, I wasn’t (contrary to popular belief) just a little kid anymore.
I was upset because I didn’t have a say.
When it came to my sister, I don’t think I was upset because she wasn’t speaking to me. I was upset about the circumstances surrounding the issue; the lack of closure. While explaining this to my partner, I told him, “I like there to be periods at the end of my sentences, not just ink that fades away.”
Truthfully, there was no period at the end of this sentence. There was no closure, no finishing statement. It was just one of those things that would hang in a cloud until someone decided to clear the air.
I walked back towards my car, parked in the lot of my old school. I stared again at the pile of concrete. I had flashbacks of recess, track-and-field day, and running long jump. I looked over to the two baseball diamonds I played slo-pitch on. The grass was growing over the gravel, what a shame.
Then I thought about how sad I had been to hear of this place getting bulldozed. When really, what did it matter? I didn’t go there anymore. It was no longer my school. It was just the school I had gone to at one point in my life.
It was then that I realized that I was too focused on the institutions where my memories took place, my house, my school, rather than the actual memories themselves. I was so fixed on cherishing the home of my moments that I almost forgot that the moments would have happened anyway.
As I walked back to my car, I hoped that my new school would have a parking lot just like this one. And I hoped that I would even be lucky enough to get a spot. I felt the fear of starting at a new place start to fade, and the excitement start to grow.
Maybe it wasn’t the fact that it was a new school, but that it was the last of two years that I would be a student. And truthfully, I loved being a student. I loved learning, I loved doing tests, I loved doing assignments, I loved reading. I loved the student life.
When I got home that night, I talked to my parents. I asked them if I could help in the search for our new place; townhouse, apartment, or shack. Surely, as long as I got to live with them, I would be fine.
And when I woke up in the morning, I apologized to my sister. It wasn’t about who was right or wrong, it was about the fact that I didn’t want to be the one who didn’t try to make it work.
And then I googled my new school. There is a parking lot. It looks just like the one my old school had. I even located the washrooms on the map. Couldn’t find any information about the doors, though.
I can’t say I always detest people who say cheerfully, “Change is good!” But maybe I can say I envy them. Because they don’t have to go soul-searching for answers to questions other people are too afraid to find out. They can rest assured that it isn’t about the change, it’s about the process.
And if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that in life, we have to do one thing, and one thing only; trust the process.
Perhaps the reason change is so scary is because we become content with where we’re at, afraid that it won’t get any better than this. We’re afraid of who we’ll meet, whether they’ll be better than who we have in our lives already, and if the grass really is greener on the other side.
Why not just water our own?
But the refusal to believe that yes, there is better out there, illustrates a complacency that many of us, you and I included, are simply too good for.
So I can't face these upcoming changes with resistance. Instead, I can welcome them, walk with them, one foot in front of the other.
Step by step.