Reflections

Why you should embrace change

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. (Albert Einstein)

When I was 16, I imagined a lot of things about myself as a 20-something. I hoped to be out of my parents’ house, close to or finished my Bachelor’s degree, dressing in the trendiest clothes, and in a relationship. At 21, though I’m pretty much on track when it comes to those things (except the clothes; I envy people who have the dedication for thrifting), there’s a lot more happening in my life right now that did not fit on that list.

I changed my major five times.
I live in a city half the size of the one I grew up in.
I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

As someone who has always been extremely goal-oriented, I tend to go through life as if I’m running toward a finish line. Once I pass this point, I think, I’ll be doing alright.

It’s a discouraging way to live, because here’s the truth: there are no finish lines in life. I guess you could make the argument that death is the ultimate finish line; but then, if you believe in life after death, my point still stands.

Life is constantly changing. If it were really a race, I wouldn’t even be running on the same track as five years ago. So why do I keep chasing the same finish line?  I get so angry with myself for not being the woman I had always said I would be, and not accomplishing the things I had said I would in the amount of time I had thought was right. But really, if I had done what was necessary to accomplish those dreams, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

And I like her. 

If I hadn’t changed my major so many times, I wouldn’t have ended up at the university where I’m currently enrolled. I wouldn’t have the same relationships, the people I now cherish. I wouldn’t have my church, my campus, or my favourite café.

And besides, if I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

Goals aren’t a bad thing. They give us something to look forward to and pursue diligently. But our goals don’t define who we are. I once believed that I was just a work-in-progress, and that my definition was found only in the end result I was working toward.

For me, a diligent student from the delicate age of four, I was shocked at my sudden willingness to set the extra-credit homework aside for date night. I was more shocked when writing energized me and playing music began to drain me. Because these things were different from what I’d always imagined for myself, I thought I was a disappointment and a failure.

But I have come to realize that even though I am a work-in-progress, the end result is not my career, education, or anything else that our culture defines as “success.”  Ultimately, the end result is to spend my whole existence pursuing God. It doesn’t matter how my goals adapt; I will always be His child.

As we grow older and discover more about ourselves, our priorities change without warning. You may find a new passion, become more introverted or extroverted, learn a new skill, start a new relationship, or all of the above.

Loosening our grips on expectations for the future does not make us failures; instead, it allows room for us to develop fully into the individuals we are created to be.

Because God is all for change: He created seasons, key modulations, and — best of all — redemption. Change is inevitable as we grow, and it is a beautiful thing. So embrace it!

Photo (Flickr CC) by Drew Herron.

Kona