The problem with treating change as a transient life ‘phase’

At this moment in time, my possessions are scattered, in storage, in bags, different postcodes. I’m feeling that wave of weirdness that accompanies unemployment, and I’m gearing up to start again, again.

I have caught myself in continually expressing the same sentiment over and over again, –“wow I’m going through a really big change right now” – each time thinking that this time, right now, is really a unique life-changing transition period. But, it’s not! I’ve been repeating this same rhetoric incessantly for years.

And, of course, there is a very real, perceivable feeling of change in my life right now. But how much am I using this concept of ‘oooh everything is changing and unsettled and busy’ to avoid or put off emotions, tasks, and people? This attitude seems to have been making me feel uncertain and end up settling – for jobs, partners, places to live, everything!

How do we use ‘change’ to ignore our present?

For me: a strong anxiety and an inability to take responsibility are contributions to my reason for not acknowledging that change is a constant state of being (in my life, anyway). Planning, planning, planning is a perfect excuse to put aside matters of now in order to concentrate on the future that this ‘change’ is apparently bringing about.

Whining, or over-talking about ‘change’ and the future we’re going to see seems to stem from:

  • An inability to deal with the present
  • An excuse to procrastinate and make very detailed plans that are half followed-through
  • The (false) belief that life is all down to chance, and that change is a scary, inevitable thing that we have no control over.

Conscious decisions leading to change:

For me, these are all conscious decisions, most of the ‘great changes’ in my life have been direct and conscious decisions and directions I wanted my life to wander. In short, I have largely been in control.

  • I wanted to travel, to move to Thailand.
  • I want to work freelance, to create a career that suits my life.
  • I want to move back home, now, so I can work on my relationship, my job, and my goals.
  • I wanted to leave Will, Oxford, to leave my job; to escape from a place of trauma.

And it’s important to acknowledge that change is not a negative thing. But the way I’ve been treating it is. It’s always created from decisions we’ve made to try and make our lives more peaceful, more exciting, happier. I’ve spent so much emotional effort preparing myself for a future I’m trying to being about, that I don’t appreciate what IS (even if being in a big transition phase can be scary).

The problem with treating change as a transient life ‘phase’

  • We forget to lie in bed at night examining how we feel, whether good or bad. Instead, it’s a constant checklist for the next day, week, month, year.
  • It’s feeling ‘unsettled’ so you never quite get anything done because “I’ll do it when my life is a little more stable”. I am the worst for this. I won’t join any groups because, well, what’s the point if I might move cities again soon or I might decide to not commit to working out because life is just too stressful and busy to commit to that.
  • We basically live in the past’s ‘oh my god this is what brought me here’ and the future’s ‘it’s gotta work out this way please!’ and totally forget to live.

 

So, I can’t promise that I’ll never say “everything’s changing so much right now!” or that I’ll never prioritize planning for tomorrow over contemplating right now. But I will try to be more in the moment, to enjoy the permanent state of transience as it is and make that a solid platform for life in itself.

But maybe it’s important for all of us to acknowledge the change that is always happening, and see it as a necessity – we can be in the change rather than always looking ahead at what it might bring.

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