When I told my friends and family that I was going to write on the topic of change, the generic response was: “…that’s such a broad topic”, and I agree. Change embodies many different shapes and forms, from historical to technological, and from positive to negative changes over time. However, I will predominantly be focusing on the changes experienced by us as human beings in today’s world. A few examples of change are: moving away from home and beginning life at university, starting a new job, or quite simply the change of your daily routine.
Some of us welcome change with open arms, whilst the rest of us take longer to come to terms with it, and hide behind a protective barrier to shield ourselves from this new threat. Those who embrace change are usually the ones who are willing to challenge their mental capacity by constantly stepping out of their comfort zone and undergoing new experiences. However for others it is vital to remain within their comfort zones. This is because change isn’t just a physical process; it can be draining for our mental health as we enter uncharted territory. It can sometimes cause a feeling of panic or anxiety, because we’re leaving a space that we know and are familiar with.
The above methods of coping with change demonstrate that not everyone deals with change in the same way, and that’s okay, because individual difference is what makes us human. If we all shared the same coping mechanism, then as a human race we’d be flat. These differences are what defines us as a society, adding both depth and dimension to the world. Similarly, these differences parallel the process of change which likewise creates a difference in the way that society functions, or on a more personal level; a difference to an individual’s daily routine.
Change is crucial for humans to grow both physically and mentally; physical changes could be your height or hair colour, whilst mental changes might alter your self-confidence and tolerance threshold. Similarly, life experiences cause you to grow mentally, effectively changing the way you think and approach certain situations. It becomes a sixth sense where you automatically avoid specific people or situations, since your past experiences have given birth to a reflex relating to how you react in certain situations. Change introduces you to certain parts of yourself that you never even knew existed up until you repositioned yourself in a new situation. University is ideal for this. Take Queen Mary for example: the diversity on campus along with the numerous societies and sports clubs to choose from leaves your mind overwhelmed (not to the mention the immensity of Freshers Fair!), so that you’re constantly subject to change. Let’s be real, you signed up for more societies than you bargained for, and you only really attended a couple of socials (or probably none!)
Change is a temporary constant. Your life is always changing, but the process of change lasts for a short while allowing you to then transition into the next chapter of your life. The changes you undergo (both positive and negative) ultimately shape your character, and the life that you live; you learn what is beneficial for you, as well as what will cause you grief.
Change assists with determining the simple choice of your favourite food, to something as dear as which relationships you want to maintain. You’re left with different versions of yourself; the latest version with more experience than the last. Whilst you won’t be completely thrilled with every single life decision, the truth is that your past selves are the reasons for your progression and current position today.
I will end by drawing on a story familiar to our childhoods; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Constantly eating new and different foods, the caterpillar is left with a stomach ache. This negative change prompts him to nibble his way through a green leaf; something he is familiar with, and leads to the climax of his transformation into a butterfly. He had to go through a negative experience to reach a positive outcome. Similarly, if you only had good experiences, and no bad ones to learn from, would you be where you are today? Ultimately, you’re the only person who gets to choose how change affects you.