Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
"Change is inevitable. Growth is optional". When I read this quote by John C. Maxwell, it sparked deep emotions as I have been thinking a lot about change recently. How difficult change is to navigate, how it is an inevitable part of life and is something that we all must face, whether we like it or not. A lot of us are creatures of habit, we love our routines and even if we become miserable, sometimes misery is less frightening than change! Change can be our intentional choices or just life throwing unavoidable curve balls our way. Some changes are small and insignificant, while others are major and life-altering. But, no matter the size or scope of the change, it is important to remember that your growth, mindset and attitude is always optional.
My life has come with a lot of change, a lot of it due to my goals and aspirations in my sport. When I started high school, I was miserable. I was in a middle and high school that I struggled in but my parents could not afford the private school options. I had 3 years in high school, where I worked hard and did everything I could to get a scholarship to my top private school of choice. While this was an amazing opportunity, it also meant switching high schools at the start of grade 11, which was terrifying. I very quickly became used to being the new girl. This "new girl" era would last another 15 years, as I headed to the USA to play in new teams, followed by Australia and then back to South Africa, for a stint, before moving back to the USA! These big moves, being the new girl and being out my comfort zone came with so many opportunities for growth. I had to put myself out there, invite myself to dinners, ask what people were doing and force my way into friendships. It often takes just a few tries of vulnerable courage to make significant growth. I was lonely, really lonely. I often and still do pine for my long term friendships and family that are scattered all over the world, and it is very easy to become internal, stay home and rather wallow in self pity than take action. Moving and making new friends as an adult has proved harder than I ever imagined but if I sit at home waiting for people to contact me or invite me places, I might be sitting here forever. Change is hard, it is a constant work in progress which requires consistent learning, vulnerability and being willing to put yourself out there.
Some change is completely out of our control. I will never forget the day I sat in the doctors room and heard them tell us that my healthy, young mom had cancer, and within 48 hours would go in for major surgery, which would result in her losing her voice as we knew it. The two years that followed that surgery incorporated bucket loads of change, not changes I ever thought would come my way at 28 years young, and not the type of growth I hoped I would need for many years to come. Losing a mother a week before my 30th birthday was earth shattering and ground breaking change. While it came with trauma and some very hard times, it also came with so many opportunities for growth.... if I wanted them! It would have been very easy to become bitter, angry and resentful towards life, God, doctors, family and friends... because after all it just wasn't fair! The reality is, life is not fair! I always get to choose how my circumstances can affect me. I got to choose how emotions effected me. I got to choose how I handled my grief. I got to choose to lean on family and friends or isolate. I got to choose to get help from a grief counsellor. I got to choose if I would allow the sadness, bitterness and resentment of the situation to eat me up from the inside. Now let's be honest, there were days I did not get out bed, days I questioned if God existed and if so, why would he do this to my mother, days I felt angry, and days I didn't care about growth. Those days were important for healing, grieving and acceptance but those days did not turn to weeks, months and then years, only because I chose not to let them. The choice for growth, the choice for happiness, the choice for understanding and the choice for peace, those were all just as I stated, choices!
Growth is something that we choose to pursue. It is a conscious decision that we make to become better versions of ourselves. It is the process of taking the changes that come our way and using them to improve ourselves and our lives. Without growth, change can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Growth cannot always be done alone. There is so much power in the collective, in the power of people, and the influence that others can have on us in times of change.
SEEKING HELP IS A POWER MOVE
Sometimes navigating change can be so overwhelming and feels impossible to do alone. We often view professional help as a sign of weakness, yet it can be the biggest sign of strength. Knowing you need others for support and guidance is a power move of control over your own life. About a month or two before my mom passed away, I started having awful nightmares. They were always different variations of her death and I would wake up in pure hysterics. The dreams felt so real and I would be sobbing from my gut and could not stop the crying for hours. It started happening so frequently that I decided to go and see a grief counsellor. Her help and guidance was transformational in those few months leading up to my moms death and the months that followed. Without her, I would have been a mess and I don't believe I would have had the coping tools necessary to navigate the change and heartache that ensued. Leaning on others in times of change or uncertainty, gives us strength in numbers. You do not need to suffer or battle life and its challenges alone!
CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST
I love this proverb. This is the idea that a change in your life, profession or relationships can be as good as a rest or a holiday. Sometimes we get stuck and believe that being stuck is better than starting over or changing direction. Fear can often stand in the way of making necessary changes in our lives. I recently needed a reset in my life, a change in my job and path. I decided to stop working but had no plan on "what next". It is terrifying to stop a job and its income without a plan, but I knew it was necessary and had to trust that I would figure it out. Fast forward 3 months of consistent job searching, interviews and knowing I needed something with purpose, I am now working for the most inspirational company who's mission is to develop leadership in woman. My courage to step into the very scary unknown, led me to a place I feel deep passion and purpose. A change that was so necessary but scary, resulted in an amazing new opportunity that provides so much growth for me. It is never too late and you are never too stuck to make changes that could be as good as a holiday for you.
As life continues to move forward, changes will continue to occur. While growth is not automatic and takes effort and intention to turn change into an opportunity for growth, it is possible. There is always possibility for growth, opportunity for self reflection and the reminder that choices can makes it that much easier to tackle change with positivity... and maybe even a little bit of excitement!
Until next time!