Who among us really enjoy change? I’m not talking about the kind of change that comes when you move to a new city or new job. I’m not talking about the changes that occur organically throughout life such as friends who pass through our corner of the world on their way to their next adventure or the changes that happen when we grow up and graduate from one phase of life to the next.
I love that kind of change! I love moving to a new house, not the physical packing and moving but the having a new space to design and decorate (I’m not good at it, but I love it). I love starting over in a new city because it’s a chance to try new things and make new friends. I love the start of a new school year because I meet new students and try new or different activities. I love changing my wardrobe periodically or changing my hair. Those outward changes are filled with excitement!
But I’m not talking about outward changes. I’m talking about true change – the kind that is soul deep and rocks you to your essence. I’m talking about the kind of change that challenges who you thought you were and who you hope to be. If I am honest with myself, I will admit that kind of change scares me.
I have always been a people-pleaser. I like to make people happy, and I try harder than I should with some people. In fact, I have tried to make people stay in my life by being nicer to them than they ever were to me and by trying to make myself appear useful to them. Those were hard-learned lessons, but I am beginning to change how I view myself. It’s scary because now I have to discover who I am; this person I thought I knew my whole life is actually no more than a shell of human chameleon who changed her outward appearance to please people who thought no more of her than they did grass beneath their feet.
I’m not saying that is true of everyone, on the contrary. Many people have been wonderful and treated me like an actual person on my own merit. They struck up conversations and wanted to know about me and my interests. It was glorious! But I wasn’t completely honest. While I do have genuine interests of my own, many things I enjoy are left over from when I was a chameleon trying to fit in with a crowd I wasn’t sure I wanted for life.
Now, as I reflect on who I am and who I want to be, I must take inventory of those interests and decide which ones I truly enjoy and which ones I only liked to make someone else happy. This self-reflective inventory doesn’t just apply to hobbies and Hollywood. It also applies to the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the desires I want fulfilled. Sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little crazy? Perhaps. And recognizing that is all part of the changes I have been seeing in myself lately.
As I make these changes and get to know myself better, I am scared that people I have come to rely on won’t like this person I’m becoming – this person who is still kind but no longer wants to be around people who don’t value her. I understand that people who leave me because I have more respect for myself weren’t good for me in the first place, but it doesn’t make the change any less scary. It means my circle of friends will get smaller before it gets bigger. Sometimes we have to do that. When we take inventory of the people who help make us better people, we need to let go of the those who pull us down. Understand, though, that sometimes means letting go of family until they see the person you are meant to be.
Having confidence in who you are as person, allows you to stand up for what you believe. It allows you to see through the lies other people have fed you, and it allows you to push yourself toward growth. You no longer have to be confined to other people’s expectations or offer excuses for what you value.
There is freedom that comes with transformational change. A freedom to love who are. A freedom to love those around you. A freedom to have a voice and find the words that define you. A freedom to wear those words not as a shield that can be taken but as part of your skin like a tattoo that doesn’t wash off.
Change is scary, but what is scarier still is never taking the chance on yourself, never believing about yourself what others saw long before you did. Change isn’t a bad thing. It’s growth and understanding and wisdom. Change is scary, but I can’t wait to meet who I am on the other side.