Last week, I read a post by a dear young lady I’ve known for a while about some of the change she is facing in her life. As I am about to face a large change in my own life, it made me quite introspective about it all.
I am the kind of person who is terrified of change. For years, it was difficult to understand why. But, as I grow to learn more about myself and of how my mind works, I learn more about it. Change terrifies me because it is unstable; there is nothing concrete about change, there is no security in it, and even worse, I have no control over the outcome.
Change is too much like a detour off a route you never alter.
I relish in stability, in a regular schedule where I know what I am doing, where I am going, and how I am getting there. It is a part of why driving to new places can cause extreme panic attacks–not knowing where I am going means having no idea what to expect.
You know those drivers who rely completely on Google Maps to navigate them? That’s me. Any time I am going to a new place, Ms Google walks me through every step. She tells me what lanes I need to be in, when there is an accident, and when I need to alter my route. My anxiety is calm because I can focus on driving and leave the rest to Google.
When I encounter change, it’s so much like navigating life without Ms Google helping me along the way. A new job means having to trust it will work out, means a new routine, and of course, means leaving something comfortable. It’s like taking that detour instead of sticking to your usual route and trying to navigate without really knowing what you are getting into.
Change makes me doubt myself
I’m probably not alone in this one. Whenever I make a decision that leads to a major change in my life, after the initial excitement wears off, I crash.
“OH SHIT WHAT HAVE I DONE? I’VE RUINED MY LIFE!” is a regular post-decision reaction for me. It is usually followed by crying, obsessing, and trying to figure out if I can re-nag those decisions. I begin to doubt everything out of fear that moving will result in the loss of everything. It is a time where I question whether I am good enough to do whatever it is I have decided to do. I wonder whether I am just making myself think I can handle it.
My anxiety kicks into full gear as I begin to obsess over all the details leading to my decision. Did I actually think this through? What if I didn’t consider everything? What if it doesn’t work out and we are going to have to claim bankruptcy, lose our house, and end up in massive amounts of debt?
This will go on for weeks, until I finally realize I made the right choice and begin to settle into the rhythm of this change.
But change is also a good thing. When occurring at the right time, it can become positive.
Once I get past the fear and the anxiety, it often is a positive influence on my life. I don’t treat change lightly; while my anxiety would have me believe I didn’t consider my options, in reality, I pour over every possible outcome before saying yes or no. Of course, I don’t have the affinity for pro and con lists that Rory Gilmore had, I do have a mental checklist for these choices.
As I’m moving into the ‘change’ right now, I’m midway between panic attacks, fear, and having the positive impacts of this change begin to take effect. There are certain things that are helping calm this: having my evenings free for the first time in a while, having a choice whether to follow Town drama, and being able to take my weekend for me without fear it will set me behind on work.
Facing change head on can be one of the most terrifying things I can go through. Embracing the positives and trusting my decisions, however, allow it to become a powerful, forward-moving force.
That force can take me to places I never even dreamed.
I just have to get past the nausea, anxiety, and sense I’m about to ruin my life first.