Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Please don't change!" No, Please Do!

Has anyone ever told you, "Please don't change"? Most people mean that as a compliment. I get it. But the fact is, many people do change if they live long enough. And it's not always a bad thing.

Imagine yourself at age five. For me, it was pig-tails and wearing pink and purple jumpsuits my mother made for me. It was missing teeth. It was eating very few yucky vegetables. It was watching shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or PBS's Nature. It was painful shyness and school anxiety. It was childhood.

Now, take me at age 30. No more pig-tails (unless I'm dressing up for something). I choose and buy my own clothes. I have all my teeth. I love vegetables and trying new ones. I no longer have social anxiety or any kind of shyness. I'm an adult.

Imagine if I hadn't allowed myself to morph and evolve as a person, what I'd be like today. What a hot mess!

Now, please notice, I didn't say I no longer watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Nature. Because I still do! I love those shows. You see, there are things about us as individuals that don't change over time because they're part of our personalities.

But many things can and do change. And unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of change. It's a shame, really.

Think about this: people like seeing things in a categorized box. It gives us comfort. For instance, "Jane's a swimmer who likes to paint" or "Mark is an accountant who grills hamburgers every Saturday." We find peace in knowing that certain things are predictable. Jane's fellow swimmer friends love the fact that she's a swimmer like them, so they tell her "Please don't change!" But what if Jane starts to pick up another hobby? What if she becomes a mountain-climber who likes to paint? What if Mark becomes a vegetarian? His grilling buddies are going to be kind of bummed.

The truth is, a lot of us don't like people to change for selfish reasons. But if nobody ever changed, we wouldn't have growth and maturity and insight and enlightenment.

Look at yourself a decade ago. How are you different now than you were then? How are you the same? You're still you, but chances are, you've grown and shifted internally as well as aged externally.

Let's embrace change. Let's let people be who they are today and not who they were yesterday, even if we don't like it. Because the journey of life is incredibly personal. And change is good for the soul.

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