One year later…
This has been my situation for the last 4 weeks.
Broken left wrist + right ankle. So you can imagine the hindrance this has been in my life. Walking has been difficult. Work has been impossible. School has not been easy. Life in general has come to a grinding halt. I’ve had surgery. I’m healing. Typing is still hard. Walking down stairs is still difficult. The cats have loved having me around all day. What I have discovered is a little shocking: I hate my job. Not the job I hope to have in 3 months or 3 years from now, but the one I have now. Despite the lack of mobility, despite the abysmally s-l-o-w typing pace, I am more at peace than I have been in the last two years.
And that was unexpected.
For YEARS, I’ve used my job as a safety net. I’ve used my job as a reason that I can’t do [whatever]. I realized that a while ago and took steps to change my path in life. But not working these last 6 week has been liberating. I’ve been able to work on the blog [rebranded –I’m now Keep Taking Chances and loving it], do more networking, explore locally, work on life balance, and edit photos like a mad woman. So I’m not going back.
I am by no means slacking off. Just shifting gears. I still have 31 credits to finish before I graduate. I certainly hope 3 months from now I won’t regret this MAJOR LIFE CHANGE.
I’m adventurous, but I’m not. Not really.
I won’t bungee jump. I won’t skydive. I won’t zipline. I won’t eat (really) weird food. Basically, anything that falls into the ‘adventure’ category is not on my list of ‘things to do.’
Yet, the other day, I was having a conversation with a friend who essentially told me “I admire your adventurous spirit. You are so fearless.”
Boy, do I have some people fooled. I like to think nobody knows me better than me, and fearless is NOT an adjective I would use to describe myself. Like Ever. Somewhat fearless? Absolutely. Sure thing. Absolutely, totally without fear? Inconceivable!
Though, this got me thinking. [Yes I know…dangerous ground]
While I have done plenty of adventurous and non-traditional things like live in foreign countries, biked the world’s most dangerous road, returned to college as a ‘non-traditional student’, and have had a unconventional work history, it was never easy or without fear. Even now as I have returned to school to become a nurse practitioner, this career change is not without fear. For me [and probably for most people] change and fear are inherently linked.
We humans naturally fear the unknown; in fact, I think we are raised that way. Everything we know is easy, good, and above all, comfortable, and even if it isn’t, there’s some truth to the adage ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’. I think most people would agree that being comfortable and being in familiar circumstance is a good thing, right?
We like what we know. We like routine. Even if we say we don’t. We like familiar things. I like spending Sundays at my favorite study spot [right beside the window…unless it’s raining, then far from the window]. It’s the new things, the future, the unpredictability of life, by its very nature, we don’t know what’s going to happen – it’s unpredictable; it’s uncontrollable. It could easily blow up in your face, or it could be a great success. And there is the difference. Perspective and having positive attitude.
You see, I have a love/hate relationship with change. I don’t inherently like change, but I do love unpredictability. Schedules and predictability stifle my ability to be creative, and before you say ‘who wants a creative nurse?’ let me say, you do…whenever your problem does not present as it does in a textbook. And nobody is EVER a textbook.
Embracing internal change is a battle I struggle with every. single. goddamn. day. I am in the process of making some pretty radical changes in my life. Is it scary? You bet. Do I want to do it? Not always. I could have been pretty comfortable with my life before I started these changes, but ultimately, would I have been happy?
I don’t think so.
So over the years, I have forced myself over and over and over again to embrace change. To shake up routine, to try new things, to intentionally rip myself out of my comfortable, organized little box and into the vast unknown, into an arena filled with potential failure, humiliation or even death. But you know why I keep doing it? My fear of the unknown is triumphed over by only one thing – a fear of regret. At the end of the day, I would have rather tried and failed abominably than not to have tried at all.
I have no shame in admitting I want things out of life that will never, ever happen if I sit on my ass at home. While I enjoy reading about adventures, that’s not enough for me. As much as I want to wake up in my own bed everyday cuddling Lucy and Christopher, I want to see the world more.
For me, change manifests itself in travel.
Embracing change is a work in progress, something you have to constantly be aware of and work on, at least for me. But ultimately the benefits of change, the positive results of challenging monotony, far outweigh the risks.
After more than 10 years and hundreds of moments of catastrophic fuck-ups and failures, stubborn refusals and denials interspersed with the most incredible experiences of my life, here are a few reasons I’ve decided why change is actually a GOOD thing and why we should all embrace it.
1. Without change, things stay the same and ultimately will stagnate and die.
I’m going to take a page from medicine and talk about bacteria. Bacteria are the epitome of change. We humans try to kill them, they alter themselves a little bit, pass it along to the new generation, and they survive, thrive even. People are the same. If they don’t change, their spirit dies.
2. Change eliminates what-ifs and potential regrets.
I recently started running, and I HATE running, but I needed to find a quick way to get in exercise since I’m sedentary a large portion of the day. I prefer trail running since I can be in nature, BUT three weeks ago, I had a nasty fall…broke a wrist AND an ankle. I had to cancel a hiking trip. I’m not working. I had to have fucking SURGERY on my hand. I am forced to relax and heal. But you know what? In this convalesce period, I’ve got to meet a relative I’ve never meet before, had the opportunity to volunteer with a cause near and dear to my heart, and explore areas close to home that I have a tendency to overlook. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t started running.
Whether it’s physical or emotional, knowingly and willingly making a change in your life with the goal of something better is worth undertaking, right? As far as I am concerned, you are not allowed to regret anything if you put forth your best effort, no matter the outcome. Choosing between the unknown and the familiar is the hardest choice in the world. And while somethings will not always go as planned or not work out, the important thing is that you try.
3. Change will open your eyes and lead to personal growth.
I believe that change can make you a better person. Sometimes, we get stuck in a mindset, in a certain way of thinking, behaving, and even living, that we avoid change. But I find when you do the same thing over and over again, your world shrinks, your perspective is limited, and quite possibly, your mind shrinks as well. Harsh, I know. The truth is, the more open you are to change, the bigger the world becomes. Travel has worked for me, changed my perspective of the world that I live in, and is the catalyst for allowing me to embrace change. But that’s not for everyone, and I am perfectly aware of that.
There are a million ways you can embrace change, and you have to find what works for you, or even if change itself is what works for you. At the end of the day, trying new things, welcoming change, and challenging yourself will only lead to good things, even if those good things are how you view the world and look outside of yourself.
4. Change leads to flexibility and positive thinking
Maybe it’s just me, but once you embrace the idea of change and decide to incorporate it into your life, it becomes inherent and it certainly changes how you think and handle situations. By embracing change in my life, I have learned to roll with the punches and look on the bright side. Because I force changes in my life over and over and over again, I can now easily adapt to new situations. I even feel like I understand people a lot better. So now when things go wrong or if I fail at something, I don’t lose my shit (at least not at first) and I have learned to adapt and go with the flow.
5. Change is a lifestyle
I admire people who are so confident and strong they can admit their mistakes. I equally admire people who are completely open to change and new opportunities, who openly seek to challenge themselves, to learn and to try new things. I am neither of those kinds of people. Those are the kind of people I aspire to be on a daily basis. Ultimately, change is a choice, one that we all have to make, whether we decide to or not.
If I’ve learned anything in my years on the planet, it’s that I’m nowhere close to perfect. In fact most days, I’m a big mess, but little by little, I’m pulling myself together, working on becoming a better person, and I have found that change is the cornerstone to this. I am not a special snowflake. I am a pretty ordinary person just trying to survive and be the best I can be.
Change is hard. Change is a battle. But things that you have to fight for generally are worth it in the end. So don’t waste your time and energy comparing yourself with other people. If you dream big like me, learn to control your fears, learn not to run from change but to embrace it with open arms and move forward into the unknown.
There is nothing more wonderful than looking back on all of your choices with fondness and pride instead of sadness and regret.
How do you feel about change?