Head

Change.

Post-college graduation, I was lucky enough to snag a full-time job only two months after crossing the stage. Which, given the job market, was a miracle. And while I was happy to avoid the panic prompted by unemployment and too much debt, I was, to be frank, fucking terrified.

Transitioning from student to young professional was a massive shift in routine. My first two weeks of full-time employment were spent retreating to the parking lot or a nearby closet for a full-blown emotional meltdown. Any attempt from a coworker to ask how I was adjusting was met with a forced grin and a stifled throat lump, so as not to let on that I’d secretly been bawling all morning.

Truthfully, I had nothing to cry about—the company and its people were nothing short of warm and supportive. But I wept inconsolably for my loss of freedom, and the overwhelming change. I viewed my nine-to-five as a prison. Because I’d stay there, locked into those hours, five days a week, until I retired.

A little dramatic, but I adjusted.

Eventually I quit blubbering, wiped my tears, and cut myself some slack. I was learning that big, scary life change was far less harmful than expected. In fact, (spoiler alert) it was quite beneficial to my personal growth. But I understand why I was such a shit-show.

As a creature of habit, I relish in the comfort of routine; it makes me feel safe. The familiarities of a standard day are dependable and harmless. A place of employment, a route to work, a job task, a social circle, a tea time, a home address—they all contribute to our norm. But if you’re one of my devoted readers, you know how I feel about normal; it’s boring.

After three years of normal, life decided to turn itself upside-down.

I didn’t see it coming.

In May, a job application found itself in my inbox by the hand of a former coworker. Barely interested, I applied figuring, if anything, it could make for good practice. I sent my resumé and an apologetic email in place of a cover letter (don’t do that) on the final submission date—I was on vacation and ten minutes late for a spa appointment. I never expected a phone call.

In fact, I totally forgot about it. So much so that when I was contacted for an interview, I didn’t recognize the employer. But after a serious evaluation of my job satisfaction, and my career trajectory, I concluded that staying put was a poor decision. So, I obliged.

This was huge.

I courted the idea of change in the first interview, and fell in love in the second. Three hours later, they offered the position.

“Holy shit, I’m leaving.” (7.16.15)

This was the trigger that launched me into an all-out redo. Seventeen hours later, I accepted. One hour later, I resigned. The next day, I announced it. Nine days later, I left. And that following Wednesday, I found myself facing the same panic-inducing fear I’d confronted at job-number-one three years prior.

“I didn’t cry or puke on my first day, but I think my fearlessness has everything to do with adrenaline. Now that it’s faded, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. But I know I can do this—change is temporary. I’m doing good things.” (8.5.15)

Adrenaline did, indeed, have everything to do with my fearlessness. And I milked it hard. Only two weeks later, I decided to uproot my home base and move to a neighboring city. This was not the original plan. None of it was. But something about all of it felt right, so I kept pressing forward.

“I think I’m moving; I’m insane.” (8.13.15)

And three days later:

“I’m definitely moving.” (8.16.15)

It was a whirlwind. In eight days I found the listing (by accident), viewed the apartment, broke my lease, sent my deposit, packed my place, and, with the help of six friends, moved across town. I was a moment away from a grade-A meltdown. It was so much new.

But I wasn’t done adulting.

With a new job, and a new home, came all of the nuances related to both. I changed my address. I changed my layout. I changed my decor. I changed my habits. I changed my transportation. I changed my route. I changed my grocery store. I changed my gas station. I changed my Crossfit gym. I changed my lunch spot. I changed my tea time. I changed my budget. Over the course of six weeks, I changed (what felt like) absolutely everything.

And somehow, I made it out alive.

“For a person who doesn’t like change, I’m awfully brave.” (8.16.15)

My attitude was my saving grace. Somewhere in the midst of calamity, I made a conscious effort to focus on the benefit, and quite honestly, go numb. That decision allowed me to view every alteration as an opportunity for improvement, and denounce my fear. Change became adventure, not self-inflicted torture.

Now, I’m working to rebuild my normal. Having recently entered week seven of my job, and unpacked my last box, I’m feeling more settled. I’m allowing myself to get comfortable in my new routine. I’m falling in love with my giant bathtub, my gas stove, and my bicycle commute. And I’m taking a moment to breathe, for which my head, heart, and hands are grateful.

That, at least, will never change.

Discussion

3 responses to ‘Change.

  1. I’m not ashamed to admit that the quote that this post reminds me of is from the TV series Everwood (I know, I know… I’m the only person who watched and loved every single episode. But hey, Chris Pratt is doing pretty good things now).

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it’s the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw, my inability to change. I don’t think I’m alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it’s kind of everyone’s flaw. Staying exactly the same for as long as possible, standing perfectly still… It feels safer somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took that leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected… Who knows what other pain might be out there, waiting for you. Chances are it could be even worse. So you maintain the status quo. Choose the road already traveled and it doesn’t seem that bad. Not as far as flaws go. You’re not a drug addict. You’re not killing anyone… Except maybe yourself a little. When we finally do change, I don’t think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we’re like this different person. I think it’s smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn’t even notice unless they looked at us really close. Which, thank God, they never do. But you notice it. Inside you that change feels like a world of difference. And you hope this is it. This is the person you get to be forever… that you’ll never have to change again.”

    Good work on all the change. As a fellow hater of change, I’m impressed. And I can’t wait to use your strength when I inevitably have to change.

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