A time for change often hits us from behind. The change is either inevitable or beyond our control. I’ll confront such a time on Mother’s Day when I watch my eldest son walk across the stage at his college commencement ceremony. A lot of things will be commencing, including his job search and our wrapping our heads around the fact that he won’t be coming home to roost any longer.
Adjusting to change
Those times in which we adjust to a new normal are important to write about. Tell the story of what happened and whether or not you were prepared for the change. Did you embrace your new role or did you grieve for the past?
Was it (or is it) a slow change that you saw coming from years away? Aging, ravages of chronic disease, and kids growing up too fast all come to mine. How did you try to prepare yourself? Did you put your head in the sand until you had no choice but face reality or did you obsessively research, read books, and consult friends?
Sometimes drastic life changes sneak up on us. We get a phone call and hear of the change—a fait accompli. (I hope if this happened to you it was for winning a lottery.)
In Handbook of Stressful Transitions Across the Lifespan, T.W. Miller writes, “Life transitions can provide a productive time to introspectively understand ourselves.” These transitions also bring an opportunity to explain ourselves to others.
Was life suddenly divided into a before and after as surely as if that date was tattooed upon your forehead? How did you deal with the shock? Looking back now, how do you feel about the before? What have you learned about moving forward?
Time for a change
Sometimes we come to a realization that it’s time to make a change. We’ve stagnated. Screwed up. We’re looking for a new beginning or have gathered up the gumption to pursue a dream. Such changes don’t always come easily. Pulling ourselves off of our current path and onto a new one can be excruciating. For instance, checking into rehab to begin a life of recovery often takes hitting rock bottom first. Other times, accepting change can mean voluntarily kissing a lot of things that you love goodbye, such as moving to a new place or starting a new career. Going back to being the new kid on the block.
A time for change doesn’t have to be huge to make a significant story. I love remembering how my Dad decided to stop smoking right after he met his grandson for the first time. Longevity suddenly mattered.
There are changes we all make for the better—learning to be more accepting of people, more forgiving. We mellow with age. That mellowing makes a great story.
Your Turn: A time for Change
When have you experienced a time for change in your life? Have you written about it?