Let’s talk about that one thing that makes everyone nervous: change.
My life has changed drastically in the last six months. It went from being frustrated about not being promoted to moving to a whole new continent in order to pursue a new career.
Y’all it has been hard!
Change is not easy; especially when it’s crammed in such a short time frame. I feel like I’m losing my mind because I feel so overwhelmed, but I’m still here. There are moments when I want to press reset and just go back to a time where I wasn’t living in a foreign country. A time when the only thing I could complain about was the scorching heat of the Namibian sun.
But I can’t because I know that running away from change is not a solution. Yes there is some discomfort with change, but that far outweighs the consequences of staying in the same place. There are four consequences to resisting change.
1. Missed Opportunities
When you are resistant to change, you’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that could have been great for you. I studied a Bachelor’s of Commerce in undergrad and I remember in my second year I was offered an opportunity to change my major. This would have seen me work towards a Bachelors in Commercial Law. My lecturers saw my potential and ability to thrive outside the Accouting world, but I turned it down.
I turned it down out of fear of what my mom would say. I now look back and wonder if my varsity experience would have been any different if I took the leap of faith and pursued something I found enjoyable. And that’s the sad thing about resisting change: you will find yourself living in erpetual regret.
Stagnation occurs when you resist change because when you’re too afraid or unwilling to try new things, you find yourself stuck.
I have have worked four jobs thus far. When I started my second job, I realised it was nothing like I thought it would be. I was scared, frustrated and unfulfilled, but I didn’t leave. I stayed there for almost four years. My fear kept me trapped and my career was going nowhere fast.
I look back now and I wonder why I didn’t just leave after the first year. There wasn’t anything stopping me, but the fear of changing work environments. The thought of making new work friends, learning to report to a new boss and navigating the politics of another work enviroment made me fearful. So instead of moving forward, I allowed myself to sit in that place of frustration.
3. Mental Health Issues
Failing to adapt to change can have a negative impact on your mental health. When you’re constantly resistant to change, you may experience things like anxiety, depression and other forms of mental health issues.
I stayed in my first job for six months. Six months into my stint there, I started getting very sick. Although i took care of my health (exercised and ate well), I constantly found myself tired and experienced severe back pain. I went to a physiotherapist for a while, but it never got better. After a while, the physiotherapsit told me to consider seeing a psychologist as my pain may be a physical manifestation of depression or another mental illness.
I eventually went to a psychologist and I learnt that my mental health had been deteriorating for a while. I was constantly anxious, and my fear of change had me staying in a toxic work environment while my mental health took a hit. For a while I was too afraid to look for a job because better the devil you know right.
It took some extreme events for me to finally leave that environment.
4. Missed Personal Growth
When you’re too afraid to try new things or to take risks, you may find yourself stuck in the same place without any growth or progress.
The other day I was looking back at some old photos of myself and I realized that I hadn’t changed much in a very long time. Before I moved to London, I did the same things, I went to the same places and I kept my circle of friends. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my friends. I love them! But I never attempted to expand my network and meet new people.
And perhaps that’s why I decided to move. I realised that I wasn’t really living a fulfilling life and I wasn’t living a fulfilling life because there are certain areas in my life I wanted to change but I was just too afraid
So if you want to lead a more fulfilling life, a life where you feel like you’re constantly pursuing and living in your purpose, it’s important to to pursue and embrace change at any at any and every opportunity. It is not easy, but being more receptive to change has a way of making everything around you much better.
Becoming comfortable with change is hard, but not impossible. So how exactly can you do it?
1. Accept Change
Hiding away from change does not mean it won’t happen. It simply means it’ll happen without you. Remember those missed opportunities we talked about.
I’m not a gym bunny, but I love various forms of movement such as walking or pilates. My body is very responsive to exercise and movement. I can start working out in the beginning of the month struggling to complete a workout, only for me to become fully adjusted in less than a month.
I have grown so accustomed to my body behaving in this manner, that I never thought it would change, That was before COVID.
After COVID, my body felt different. Movement was so hard. I remeber trying to do my first 5 km walk and I couldn’t even finish one kilometer. My body felt s foreign. I tried pushing myself to do more. But the more I pushed myself, the harder movement become. It got so bad that I started hating movement altogether.
I came to the realisation that this was my new reality and accept that COVID-19 forever changed my body. I can’t even be upset because I know surviving a bout of COVID, especially during the early stages of the pandemic, is a blessing. Accepting the change allowed me to start feeling more comfortable and my body started feeling like home again.
2. Embracing Change
Embracing change can be difficult especially if it’s not something that you were expecting, but embracing change is essential if you want to adapt and grow.
I currently live in London and the first time I went outside, I was really scared! There were so many people!
I’m from Namibia, a country with a population of less than three million people. London is pushing a population of over 9 million people. And although everybody speaks English, the accents make it so hard to understand what folks are saying. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a in a country where they speak a foreign language.
I found myself constantly calling my sister; I would text her and I would be crying and I’d ask myself if I made a massive mistake in moving.
Today, I now find myself using the tube like I have been living here all my life, but I still cry. And when I have the urge to cry, I choose a park to walk to. I watch people walk their dogs and find areas to explore. And that’s one thing I appreciate about London: the many open parks.
The other day I walked past the River Lea and saw a swan up close for the first time. I’m not a fan of birds, in fact I’m terrified of birds, but swans are truly a sight.
3. Be Flexible
Flexibility is key when it comes to adapting to change. It is important to be open to new experiences and willing to adjust your plans and expectations.
I applied to my third job (yes I know, I have a lot of work drama but bear with me) wanting to be a forensic auditor. But when I started working, I found myself doing a lot of internal audit work. For those not familiar with auditing, these two fields are completely different. It’s like a pediatrician vs a gynecologist; both are doctors but specialise in different fields.
When I started doing internal audit work, I was frustrated because it was not what I signed up for. I felt as though I didn’t have the skills to become an internal auditor, and I didn’t want to gain those skills. However, I soon had to remind myself of all the times I allowed myself to sit in frustration.
This time instead of staying in a state of fear and frustration, I started asking questions. I have to say I was lucky to have an amazing Senior Manager and Director that were both willing to guide me and teach me. The support they provided me allowed me to not only acquire a new skill, but also allowed me to call myself an internal auditor.
4. Focus On The Positive
When going through change, it’s very easy to focus on the negative. But keeping an eye out for the positive is important.
When I was in varsity, I was on the debating team. Those familiar with university debating will know that before any major tournament, there were tryouts. Well, I tried out as a speaker, but failed to make the cut. I was upset and disappointed, but refused to throw myself a pity party. Instead I decied to take up the role of adjudicator (the folks that judge the debate).
I’m so glad I decided to pivot into adjudication because it was so much fun, and I was rather good at it. Being an adjudicator taught me how to listen to others and showed me the importance of critical thinking. It taught me how to balance different perspectives and not buy into the notion that your accent determines your level of intellect. Plus it made me an excellent notetaker.
So yes, change can be scary.
It can be scary and overwhelming, but change can also be exciting and rewarding. It’s all about how you deal with it.
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