Change Is Not Your Enemy
Years ago, I had been a stay-at-home mother in Germany. My children were young, and I had settled into a life that was survivable. I was a military spouse at the time, and people needed me to be there for them. So I had given up the working mother mantra, and settled into the role of dutiful spouse. Then we returned to the states, and I felt a sense of relief that I could finally get back into the workforce. Not long after landing, I had landed a job, a technical one, a well-paying one. But I never started.
I declined the job a couple of days after the offer, a day after I had negotiated a higher salary. I made every excuse, blamed my motherly and wifely duties, saying that I realized I needed to wait.
That was B.S.
The truth of the matter was that I had adjusted to the familiarity of not having a job. I had seasoned myself with the safety of the known, and was just too scared to step back into the unknown, the working world that had once been so familiar a lifetime before.
I had adjusted to my status quo, had allowed my problem of not having a job to identify who I’d become.
The lessons here can apply to any situation in all of our lives, whether we’re afraid to go back to work, or we’re afraid to quit a job and live our dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom. We all have our own defining mediocrity, and it’s different for all of us; yet, we all have the propensity to allow it to sink us to the safety of our unhappiness, because we get so adjusted to living in it. We get so accustomed to identifying ourselves by our problems that we become afraid to let them go. Sure, we say we want to change, to break out of the mundane, but when it starts to happen, we retreat back to the dark.
We see it every day, in the faces of our coworkers who never smile, in the office drama we crave because it adds some kind of spice to a job that sucks away our happiness, and in the break room which turns into a bitch session at lunch time. We see it in our friends who won’t leave abusive relationships. We would rather cope than conquer—at least most of us.
And this is why few people actually take the steps necessary to exact real change. We are afraid to solve our problems and/or break out of our shells because they’ve become our identity. We’re afraid we won’t know who we are without them. We’re afraid to reinvent ourselves. The beauty in change comes at a cost. It becomes an eradication of everything we’ve ever known to be true.
But the eradication, the blank slate, is the beauty. As such, we need to look at this from a radical point of view. We’re not afraid to change, we’re afraid to draw a new picture. In my case, I wasn’t afraid of the working world, I was afraid of creating an abundant life with the opportunities set forth, because I wouldn’t know how to live free from financial restrictions, and free from some the issues in my marriage. I would be solving problems, and I was scared of the void of not having those problems, and of the awesome responsibility of reinventing myself that that void would create. In short, I had forgotten how to be independent.
The world is full of advice on how to overcome our challenges, to break free from our pain, to heal our scars. Hell, we even have step-by-step guides on how to do some of these things, even finding a new job. But unfortunately, there is no manual on how to live again. There is no tailored roadmap to tell us where we go from here, (i.e., how to build up the opportunity presented). There really can’t be, because to do that would put us right back in the place we just left, we allowing the world to direct our steps.
I eventually took the leap, and went back to work. Yeah, I was scared, until the sense of independence brought me back to myself, my true self. I never looked back. After that, I realized change can be magnificent, and I stopped being scared of it. My divorce soon followed.
Life’s either a treasure hunt, or a rigged maze designed to never let us out. It’s in how we look at it, how we respond to it. And one thing’s for sure, if we don’t challenge it, we won’t thrive in it. We have to give ourselves permission to not have problems, or, at the very least, minimize them to the things we absolutely can’t control. That’s okay. Because by then, we usually have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change anyway.
Life has headlights. We just have to clear the fog. We don’t have to put up with a job that makes us miserable. We don’t have to stay in that unhappy relationship. We don’t have to stay inside the house simply because we don’t know where to go. Just make a move. Be smart, but move. Direction will come to those who need it, when they need it. Have some faith. It’s okay to seek sound advice. But remember, you have your own answers and deep down, you know who you are.
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About the Author
Michelle Dwyer is a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, behavior change specialist, award-winning writer and performance coach. She received her MBA from Texas A&M University Central Texas/Tarleton State University, where she focused on organizational behavior, management, and leadership; Her MFA in creative writing is from National University in La Jolla, California. In addition, she will soon receive her life coach certification. Michelle has helped countless women break through the barriers that have held them back. Visit Michelle’s pen name online at http://krymzenhall.com/.