I think we often know when it is time to step out into change or when change is coming, unbidden. When we need something different. A seismic shift. The details may be cloudy and we may feel afraid. But deep down we often know.
When I was 20 years old and living in England, unhappy, needing a hip replacement, binge eating and treating myself with disdain, I knew I was ready for change. I couldn’t yet bear to think about what that might look like, to hope for better, I just knew I couldn’t stay as I was. Pouring my alcohol down the drain was my first step into the unknown. I returned to Canada, never touched drugs again, paid off my credit card debt (why do banks give 19 year olds credit cards?!), upgraded to get into college, and tentatively began a new life.
When I was 25 my son was born. I struggled with anxiety but loved being married and was so excited to meet my baby. I had plans to work full-time as a teacher and my husband and I dreamed of traveling and teaching in South Korea but the moment I held my tiny son I knew that my whole world had shifted. I had no idea what that would look like or the beautiful family I would help grow. But I knew that all my well-laid plans just flew out the window; acknowledging this was my first step into the unknown. We ended up moving to a small town, homeschooling, and putting most travel on hold for years to come.
Before my 40th birthday I had a deep-down knowing that change was coming. I had no idea what it would look like and surprisingly wasn’t afraid but suspected it would not all be pleasant. Shortly after my birthday I made the decision to finally go through the hip replacement I’d held off the past twenty years; this was my first step into the unknown. A few months later I could barely walk even with a cane, I began studying again at this most inopportune moment, and my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Change had come.
5 short years later I am again on the cusp of change. I feel it deep down in my bones and have but a foggy idea of what it will look like. But I have agreed to my youngest heading to public school next year, a big first step for us into the unknown. I have decided to take a Gap Year of sorts to rest and read, I will help launch my second born out of the nest in a year, and ideas around writing are percolating in my head and heart.
None of these examples are extraordinary, of course; they are simply reminders to me that if we quiet ourselves enough to listen we can hear the call of change. Reminders that while change can be hard it is usually, or at least often, good.
Even the horribly painful parts can be fertile ground for the unfolding of incredible growth and beauty if we remain open to the lessons they can teach us along the way.
Most of us like comfort and seek stability. I certainly do. I am no visionary or natural risk taker. But I have learned to hold everything I know, all my hopes and plans very loosely. Knowing that what I see and understand is so limited. I only see in part.
Change always comes and rather than living in fear of it as I have done throughout much of my past, I now understand that it is a healthy and critical part of the journey.
I get excited when potential clients contact me and tell me “I am ready for change”; I understand the transformative power behind these words. I celebrate when my friend makes a hard decision, pushing through the grief to let go of what was in order to care for herself well. When a family member refuses to take the easy road as he pursues a long-held dream and he can clearly articulate the WHY behind his decision, I am proud of him.
When people private message me and share how their struggles have helped them become kinder to themselves and others it solidifies my belief that change is healthy. I listen to a good friend walking bravely through an incredibly difficult season and know that in a year’s time, she will no longer be the same person. She will have metamorphosed into something yet more beautiful with new strength and compassion to offer the world.
Is it time for change in your life? Listen. I think deep down you already know.
Is it time to go back to school or is your heart calling you home? Are you ready to release that relationship or that addiction that has held you down for far too long? Can you sense that you are no longer the same person that you were yesterday and you are ready to become a fuller, more vivid picture of who you dream of being? Take that lesson, dive into risk if that is what you need to do, or jump off the hamster wheel and simplify your life. Maybe it is time to dance through life with JOY even if you don’t quite know the steps and the whole wide world thinks you’re weird.
I want to challenge you today to release your tight hold on whatever it is that is causing you fear. Remind yourself that it is ok if the path before you is only lit a bit of the way. That’s all you need for now. Then take your first step into the unknown.
Photo published with permission from Cassie K