Change is one scary son of a bitch. Don’t you agree? It might work out for the best, but when faced with it, it’s enough to make you break into a cold, cold sweat.
Our formative years are all about learning, growing, changing. Then one day, most of us suddenly learn to fear it, avoid it, run like hell from it if we can. Is it a nature vs. nurture type scenario? Did we finally have one too many changes; the straw that broke the proverbial camels back?
Then there are the ‘Others’. Those of you who are infinitely patient. Flexible. Unbreakable. Changeable. How do you do it? You make it seem so easy. I envy and admire you. I aspire to be you.
I find myself facing change. You didn’t realise that’s where I was heading did you? (yes, I am definitely being cheeky and rolling my eyes enthusiastically)
I’ve hinted in previous posts at the work that I’ve done over the years and my most recent experience has been with a wonderful NFP and an amazing team and CEO. That’s coming to a close more suddenly than expected and at this time of year, not exactly fabulous timing. But then, there’s never a really good time I don’t think.
I’ve fulfilled many different roles over the years, but most of them were with one employer over the span of 24 years. I was in the military, you see. I have a very deep and abiding respect for the military; its traditions, its protocols, its people and the sacrifices they and their families make. Something the military is exceptionally good at is breaking you down to the lowest common denominator, and remaking you into what it needs you to be. This is very, very good. It’s also not so good. You are, in effect, indoctrinated, reprogrammed, assimilated. It’s extremely necessary. And it becomes normal, easy, familiar, a way of life – all parts of your life are affected. Yes, all.
Breaking away from that can be really f*cking hard. True story.
I took the plunge (read: gut-wrenchingly-scary step) and left the military to work for the previously mentioned amazing NFP almost a year and a half ago. My CEO is a woman I hold so much admiration for. She founded the NFP to support the families of frontline members; police, emergency services, military etc. Joining her vision gave me the transition I needed out of the Services while still giving me the opportunity to help the people I served with, in a way. I understood them. I’d once walked in their shoes. I was still with them. With her care of me and her NFP’s care of frontline families, I changed.
I opened up and I learned how to really empathise. Do you know how hard it is for a military person to empathise? We have rules on how to do that you know. Not specifically, but they’re wrapped in procedures and protocols as a way of dealing with ‘the problem at hand’. I’m not saying military or frontline personnel are unfeeling robots, far from it. They simply learn to internalise many emotions, create a facade, hide behind black humour. Ah, those famous sayings that get trotted out; “build a bridge and get over it”, “suck it up”, “call a chaplain”. We thrive on it. Or rather, survive by it.
When you strip that away, you kind of feel raw, exposed and uncertain. Probably why frontline personnel are reprogrammed in the first place, right? How can you make crucial decisions and face life or death situations if you’re agonising over ‘feelings’? But I digress.
Over my time with this NFP I’ve cracked myself open a little more each day. I still wake up sometimes and agonise over what to wear and how to do my hair (because the military used to tell me all of this) but I listen more, I sure as hell feel more and I even talk about how I feel – sometimes to complete strangers! I really like who I am now, I’m grateful, but it’s made me feel so much more. And when you’re facing an uncertain future of change, feeling more sucks.
What will I do? How will I support my girls? How will I pay the utilities? How will I pay my mortgage? How will I get through Christmas? Will I disappoint my kids because I can’t give them the things they want? How did I get here? Did I do something wrong? Is the universe laughing at me for daring to leave my long, long career with the military? Will I have to move back in with my ex? Will I fail? What should I do? What can I do? What is my worth?
When you’re facing change, my advice is to take a deep breath and look inside yourself. Try not to panic. Find one bit of routine or normalcy in your life – or create it – and then keep doing that while you think through each of those scary questions whirling endlessly through your head. If you can’t find an answer to a question, put it aside and work on the next one. Find positive words about yourself, the things around you, the people around you. Use those words to calm yourself and slow your thoughts while you go through that routine and methodically work through those questions again and again.
I love walking (and I can’t run to save my life, I just kinda shuffle). I’ve been doing it a fair bit at the foreshore and marina nearby. It calms me and frees my brain. I love to look at the world around me as I walk, even if I’ve seen it a hundred times before. The shape of a tree, the grass, the sounds of the wind, the ripples on the water, the crunch of gravel beneath each step, birds perched atop a rock or soaring high, the giggle of small kids playing in the park, the sound of my playlist as I put one foot in front of the other. These things are familiar and calming. They give me something to focus on while not focussing. They give me something to admire, to be happy about, to give thanks for.
That brief respite reminds me that no matter how crappy or uncertain my future is, these things will not change and they are simple and beautiful because of it. And I am a part of that. And I will be okay.
One of my dear friends sent me a link via Facebook today to a post by Harp to Heart Healing reminding me there’s a new moon tonight. It’s a beautiful post about leaving the past behind and moving forward, valuing yourself, treating yourself with great compassion as you create a new story for your life. There’s much more in there and I recommend you check out the page. Whether you’re a spiritual person or not, the message is a kind one. You should think about who you’ve been and who you want to be. Imagine what you want. Wish for it. Reach for it. Why not? There’s no harm in it.
So tonight my friends, I’m going to manifest the shit out of that. I’m going to imagine, wish and reach.
Change is hard and it’s scary. But it can be good too. You just need to look for it.
What changes have you faced that felt like they’d cripple you and how did you overcome them?
Yours in rambles,