There is no turning back.
Change is not something that’s always easy to grasp, or even to notice. Sometimes, the changes are big and dramatic, like someone having a baby or moving to another place, and it’s clear that some aspect of your life is different than it used to be. You realize it when you go to visit your family and there’s an additional member, or when you have to board a plane to see a close friend.
The bulk of life’s changes are more subtle, and we don’t even realize that they’ve taken place. It’s only when we sit back and take stock, notice the accumulation, that we realize something is very different than it used to be. Maybe it’s something big, but maybe it’s something small, like making the decision to grab lunch with someone. Before you know it, it’s become a routine part of the day. You don’t know how it even started, you just know you haven’t packed a lunch for months.
You don’t know when changes are going to come, and not every surprise is a welcome one. It’s tempting to want to stay the same, to learn more about yourself and your present condition, or even to just enjoy the sameness for a while. Maybe that’s what you wanted, but for most of us, that isn’t reality. Change can come in so many forms, a religious experience, a conversation with a person, a book you’ve read, any number of ways. Maybe it comes outwardly, but maybe the way you see the world has completely changed, and you know that something has to shift so that you can align yourself with the vision of who you want to be. You need to become someone else, something else, in order to make sure that your energy is able to flow.
Change involves letting go of who you were, and this can bring with it a fresh wave of anxiety. You may have liked who you were before. You may have liked the friends and the things you used to do. You may get protective over the things you’re losing, but you know that in order to gain the new, you have to let go of the old. It may take time, and many sleepless nights. I’ve often found an idea to be objectionable, only to wake up the next day and realize that it makes sense, that it’s something I need to put into action.
If you don’t change, then so much of your life becomes resistance. Your energy is spent blocking the natural flow of your life. You know the path forward, and yet you’re doing everything in your power to avoid it, or not to walk it, when you already know what has to take place. Maybe you won’t welcome every change, and you might change or reverse course entirely, just make sure that you’re moving in a direction, even if it’s different from the path you’re on now. Don’t spend your life fighting the changes that have to come.
You have to shed your skin, and enter the next phase. We’re not allowed to stand still. You can have your convictions, but you should also allow yourself to flow and to change. You might end up happier than you ever thought possible. Admit that you don’t always know what’s best for yourself. Acknowledge that something may come along that you never considered. Maybe you end up feeling completely different about something you used to avoid. Maybe it becomes the hobby that unlocks everything else.
It can be frightening, letting go of your past. There’s comfort to be found in your hometown, in friends that you’ve had forever. They give you a sense of identity, of who you were when you grew up. These friends anchor us, keep us from feeling completely lost, but not every friend can stay in your life. They’ll pursue their own paths, their own ways of living. Some people will make mistakes, some will fail, while some will be on an upward trajectory, tracing out a course for the stratosphere. Try not to compare yourself. People have their own paths, and some will reach their goal faster than others.
Some friends will understand your new path. They’ll encourage you to keep going. They’ll understand that you’re doing something you’re passionate about, and that it’s something that’s good for you. The best we can do in life is encourage our friends to find happiness and fulfillment. We may not understand the path they’re on, but we have to trust that they’re working to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
Some friends will leave, and that’s a difficult fact of life. My perception of this has changed dramatically. Rather than someone denouncing the “New You” and then storming off, the reality is a lot less dramatic. In most cases, people just stop coming around. You don’t think to call them, and maybe that feeling is mutual. The twin paths diverge, and it’s not always a conscious decision. Sometimes, people lose their common ground, and with nothing left to stand on, they look for something or someone else they have more in common with.
We shouldn’t want our friends and loved ones to stay the same, especially if they want to make a change. It can be difficult to let go of a previous conception of who someone was, but we have to grant others the freedom to become someone different. We need to let go of the older person, our old idea of them, and embrace this new person standing before us, a person we may not fully understand.
Don’t fight the changes that you know are coming. Let them happen, and take that next step in life. Become who you want to become. Know that this phase isn’t forever, that there will be many more, and just embrace the constant chaos that life throws at you. Things will change. The people around you will change, and so will you. Don’t be surprised when you become a different person than you ever thought you’d be. Don’t worry, you won’t stay that way. There’s much more to come. Relax, and let go of the preconceived notions you may have. Thanks for reading.
One thought on “Shedding Your Skin”
Re: change… indeed, it’s omnipresent. We can choose to flow with it or fight it. I love the visual of someone kayaking a river and choosing to go where the current takes them versus paddling furiously to go against nature’s course. The concepts of allowing and accepting come to my mind.
To your words: “… to gain the new, you have to let go of the old.” I understand your perspective yet I wonder if we truly need to let go of the old. Can we selectively carry some of ‘the old’ with us as we move forward? Does it need to be one without the other? I appreciate a friend’s mantra: “The past called and it had nothing to say.” Yes, to dispensing with facets of our past that serve little purpose. And yes to those beautiful memories and experiences that taught us valuable lessons. I am unwilling to let go of that ‘old.’ 🙂 I want them to be part of my ‘new.’
“The best we can do in life is encourage our friends to find happiness and fulfillment.” Touche! This is a theme I have heard you echo more than once. It’s as warming a sentiment as it is compassionate. Very you, I sense.
“…Just embrace the constant chaos that life throws at you.” Have you ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements? In it he describes the term “mitote” which (oversimplifying) speaks to the constant stimulation/chaos that swirls in and about our daily lives. He also offers ways in which to deal with mitote. I like your suggestion to “Relax, and let go…” It does work.”)