I’ve been thinking for some time about change. Transition comes up a lot at this time of year and these thoughts are linked in some way to the article I wrote for UKEd Magazine this month on that very subject. There, the focus was on finding a way to make change effective for those involved in education. It started to make me think about how we deal with change in our every day lives. These are my reflections…
Change has played an important part in my life as it does for many of us, whether you relish it, hate it or simply deal with it. Change can have an impact on us. Who we are, how we deal with things and what we become. Somehow, no matter how much you try to elude it’s grasp, it will, sooner or later find you. It’s how we deal with it, I’ve learnt, that matters.
Change isn’t all bad. My mum has a saying that’s old beyond her years: ‘..life can change on a sixpence..’. I used to roll my eyes at her but now, as I grow older I realise how true those words are, even if I still can’t grasp the imagery.
When you hit a bad patch in life, it can be difficult to think straight. The mind, I think, can be all levels of ‘wiggly’ and before you know it, ‘wiggly’ becomes your norm. Life is funny. It deals out the most unexpected of things: one day you’re smiling beyond belief, the next you’re blown away by at how quickly things have turned upside down. It’s never predictable, never plain sailing, never-and I repeat never- what you think it will be.
Happy times are easy. We share the good times; shares the successes and we laugh and congratulate ourselves on how wonderful life is. The hard times are different. People change. Jobs change. Situations change. Things go wrong; mistakes are made. It’s these changes that leave lasting marks on who we are.
It’s a forever flowing river, is life.
There’s the part where you start the venture out into the water, full of excitement. This part can be mildly hazardous. We are quick to jump in, quick to wade forward- quick to fall down an unforeseen hole and go under. It’s only ever short lived this ‘dip’. At the time it happens we are merely at the start of the our river. We pick ourselves back up and keep wading. Somehow it’s part of the thrill.
It’s the rapids that cause problems. As we become confident, we begin to wade faster, take bigger risks- jump the odd dead tree which floats towards us and we think we are doing well. It’s only when the rapids hit us that we realise we still have much to learn. Fast and furious, cold and callous, the rapids are fierce. They throw you around, bash you on the rocks and drag you under. It doesn’t matter how furiously you kick, the current of life can sometimes be too strong. It can feel like you are going under.
The rapids are there to test your strength; to remind you that life isn’t always how you want it to be; to give you a sharp wake up call and make sure you are aware that not everything is controllable. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sailboat or a yacht you’re sitting in, it will rock.
A very much loved friend of mine often talks of being graceful like a swan on the surface whilst kicking furiously underneath. It’s a great analogy. We’ve all been there with that ‘just keep swimming’ face. We do our best to convince ourselves we can swim our way through. We try but it’s not always that simple. Sometimes we can’t go it alone and I think this is, above all things, what I’ve come to realise.
Change is isolating. It’s something that effects everyone and yet we often seek to cope with it alone when we don’t necessarily have to. Everyone is going through it to a certain degree. It’s the times when it’s most difficult that it’s important to stop and look around you. We all have our own boats to row and we all hit our own rapids. If you look however, you will find that there are those who are prepared to swing out a life line. Those who maybe recognise the difficulties being faced and who can offer an extra oar for support, or maybe even a tow for a short while. They genuinely care about your well being and who you are, no matter how far away you row from them.
I have come to realise that without these people around you, change can often become overwhelming. These people are like anchors around you. They ground you and remind you of who you are and where you have come from. They see the good in you and they remind you, even when the light changes that it can still be seen from the end of the tunnel. They will happily celebrate successes with you, but more importantly, they will help guide and steer you through the rapids because to them, you are worth it.
I used to be afraid of change. I hated it. I felt literally sea-sick at the thought of what was to come and I would avoid it at all costs. Over the years I have come to realise that it cannot be avoided and I, like many others, have hit rapids. I would even go so far as to say that I have fallen out of my boat and gone overboard but this is how I came to learn who was beside me and for those anchors I will always be grateful.
Some changes are easily dealt with. Some less so. Even the changes that take time or feel like the hardest ones can often bring us the most growth as people. Through them we learn to steer our boats more wisely. As a result of them, we learn to remember that it is always important to keep one eye on the future ahead and what it is we are rowing towards. What made us step into our boat in the first place. If we can keep our eye on what lies ahead, and find the determination to ‘just keep swimming’, then we will be OK. Our metaphorical floating anchors, or those who love us, will stay along side us for the journey. It’s when we realise that we are not alone, that change doesn’t seem so bad after all.
With change comes challenge; with challenge comes chances; with chance comes hope…