Truth #4: Change Happens—With or Without You
Things update, but don’t replicate.
In the same way that shittiness is temporary, so are your current circumstances.
If you’re going through a rough patch and the future feels uncertain, know that everything is always in flux. Today’s stress, rift with a friend, or woman that called you a “crusty bitch” outside of Circle K, doesn’t have to exist tomorrow.
Things change quickly.
Every day, we have the opportunity to make slight adjustments. While we don’t notice that things are shifting, they are. The show goes on—with or without you. Whether you are present or not.
And the passage of time is tricky.
While the clock’s inevitable tock feels helpful when things are tough, it can be scary when we’re in a sweet patch.
Parents get old, blue light glasses turn into a real prescription, and suddenly we reach for une tomate and our hands look like a crocodile-skin wallet.
One minute we’re getting our braces off, and the next we are in leg braces with baby number three crowning.
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The time between life’s chapters is short.
At various points throughout your adulthood, you’ll catch a glimpse and think: “holy shit, we are not as remembered”. And in these moments, we play catch up. Suddenly, we have a clearer view of our current self, someone else, or our surroundings.
This is when our brain does a software update.
Then, we must rewrite our image of [Insert NAME] and add in [Insert an ADULT LIFE ITEM e.g. marriage, baby, death, name change, move to a hippie compound etc.] that we haven’t processed yet.
[Insert NAME] is no longer stealing their parents car and sleeping through Spanish class. [Insert NAME] has a lean and mean toddler, a Traeger pellet smoker they won’t stop posting about, and crows feet.
[Insert NAME] looks like how we remember our elementary teachers looking—only with nicer hair and better teeth (a gift from widespread orthodontics of the 2000’s).
For some of you reading this right now, getting to life’s next software update may feel like a relief.
If we think back to being teenagers, growing up and moving out was a right of passage. Getting a first apartment, a big boi job that required dress pants, and making our own money was an exciting step. In fact, these milestones are widely cited in the Adulting 101 Handbook (refer to Chapter 8, Item 43—“Always Test the Water Pressure in an Apartment Before Signing a Lease”).
And while ticking off the expected line items in the “I’m an adult checklist” feels satisfying, there’s no easy way to undo them. Once you graduate into the career, the moving in together, the marriage, or the kid, you can’t easily go back.
By law (and design), undoing the responsibility you’ve tacked on comes with resistance.
So, if you don’t have it all together and haven’t yet blossomed into bougie, try to enjoy having less. Slow down and feel the freedom of not having extra weight on your shoulders. Generally, the more you have, the more you have to carry.
Plus, there will come a day where this very moment (like right now) will feel nostalgic. It may even feel cute.
Note: Imagine if we could go back—with the knowledge we have now—and experience being a baby? Like getting strollered around in our portable king bed and falling asleep inside cafes and restaurants? I’m pretty sure we’d enjoy the shit out of it and not feel eager to grow up and “do weed” behind the school’s portables. I’d wager that in our blob-like state (despite sitting in our own shit), we were enjoying the lack of responsibility. At least we shoulda been.
* Zero puffs of weed were had in the making of this article or in the above thought ^
On the flip side, if you’re in a phase of doing the most, remind yourself that the panic in your chest you feel everyday by 10AM won’t last forever. Soon, the runway will clear and you will have to figure out if you’re addicted to chaos and are adding in too much junk to avoid recovering your shameless (we will save this one for another day).
In other words, your current set-up—both good and bad, maximalist or minimalist—won’t last forever. Eventually, things will shift and you’ll taste flavours of shit sandwich that you didn’t even know existed.
Parts of you will yearn for the elements of today that you are taking for granted.
So, *try* to enjoy the place you’re in. Change is constantly bubbling right below the surface, and some combination of: responsibility, success, ambition, relationships, renovations, ailing parents, debt, thinning hair, screaming children, depression, health scares, broken furnaces, and/or rotten tooth breath, will find you.
Priorities take hold. People generally become less available. And sequels are rarely as good as the originals.
Things update, but don’t replicate.
Life’s perfect pockets—like the summer nights we never want to end, the carefree days when nothing looms over us, and the frivolous road-trips to nowhere—will always be there, but they won’t always look the same as they do right now.
With change, new shapes emerge, but specific times in our life are hard to recreate.
And while it’s natural to mourn past perfect pockets, especially when we’re in a challenging phase, we have to adapt and stay present.
So, when your only sister calls to announce she’s “fallen” pregnant—and you are hit with an “end of an era” surge—try not to yell “Ew, Noooo!” into the phone.
Note: If you do yell “Ew, Nooo!”, just buy an extra nice “with child” gift.
With the graduation of one chapter for the next, it’s okay to take a beat.
It’s also fine to be sad about ‘happy changes’ like the babies, cross-country moves, or engagements that challenge our realities. Change in ourselves, or others, holds up a mirror that forces us to acknowledge the passage of time. As a result, we may romanticize simpler times, compare progress, or even face our own temporality.
So, yelling “Ew, Nooo” at someone’s happy news doesn’t make you terrible. It is just an honest (and unrecommended) response to the fact that change deserves our attention.
So, if life is going by too quickly and you don’t feel part of the change around you, sit with why not.
If the past feels sweeter than the present, then let this be a sign that you’ve got to start investing in the positive change you long for.
If you’re wishing for a ‘wake me up when September ends’ to get through a day-to-day downswing, know that this is unfair to you. Sleeping through change will come back to haunt you.
When you don’t embrace change, your brain’s next software update can crash the whole system.
Note: Plus, if you stick to the “Ew, Nooo” side of change, you may just throw your sister a “Festival Sadie” themed baby shower where glow sticks and pouring one out for good ol’ days are encouraged, but don’t quite land.
Riding change is a delicate balance.
Right now—as you read this—you possess powers that you have yet to harness. You also hold things that your future, older self will wish they could have back. I am talking about possibility AND collagen.
Remember, change happens with or without you. So, you’ve got two choices:
Use it to your advantage by enjoying the moment and making micro-moves towards where you want to go.
Become a creepy, overly nostalgic adult that sleeps with stuffed animals.