When it comes to change, we can be our own worst enemy. We reject our new circumstances and can’t help but spend our time wishing away our current situation and hoping our lives go back to ‘normality.’
The issue is that we learn to expect stability from a young age. Our parents help anchor us, and they help us grow-up in a safe environment so that we develop into capable adults. So, the idea of being in a new, strange, unpredictable situation makes us feel uneasy, frustrated, and even anxious. We are taught to resist change, and this creates a problem.
This autumn, many of us will be leaving our towns, cities, friends and parents for the first time. We will be living through the most uncertain period of our lives with no promise of a job at the end of it, just the promise of a very large student debt.
We will be constantly bombarded with life events we cannot control. To reject these events would be a waste of the experiences they offer. So, we must learn to flourish even when we are not in control.
So, what can we do to help us flourish through change?
1) Don’t try to change things you cannot control
When we encounter stressful events, it’s all too easy to fixate on the aspects that we cannot control. This could be an unsupportive lecturer, flatmate or exhausting workload.
At these times we must re-access what responsibly we CAN take for the situation and work towards change that IS possible. This could be talking to a helpful member of your department, going to societies to meet like-minded friends and creating a routine. This stops us wasting energy on things we can’t change and enables us to invest in the things we can change.
2) Feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
The feeling of instability that comes with change is uncomfortable. The reality is that we are not going to feel content when we are going through such events. But, this is okay, this is normal, and practically everybody feels this way from time to time.
Remember, everyone is very good at pretending to be okay. So remember not to judge your inside experience by what you see on other people’s outside. It’s likely you look just as self-assured as they do.
3) Use paper and pen to jot everything down that is bothering you
When we find ourselves endlessly ruminating or going over worries in our head, it is surprisingly helpful to write the worries down. This process externalises the thoughts and helps our brain figure out what is actually causing us difficulty. We usually find that quite small issues have been magnified to large problems. When we write things down on paper, it becomes a lot easier to sort concerns into priorities and identify the small everyday problems which are easily overcome.
4) Find your values and your priorities
You are only one person. If you spend your time worrying about too many things, you would burn out in a few days. Many of us can feel that we are being pulled in multiple directions and overwhelmed with the different demands that we may face. So, it’s important to go into situations knowing your goals, values and priorities.
Remember, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
When you feel overwhelmed, try stepping back for a moment. Access what your biggest priority is at that moment. Then, identify the next right move, (however small) and that can take you in the direction that you want to go in. This helps us slow our brain down, conserve our energy for things that are truly important and focus on the things that will make the most difference.
5) See change as an opportunity for your resilience to shine
Whilst change is hard, it creates space for growth. After all, it’s when we put ourselves into new and challenging situations that we have the capacity for personal progress and development. Transitions help us thrive and become more resilient individuals. Change means we progress; we learn from our mistakes and find out what our strengths are. So remind yourself that you have everything you need to get through the events life throws at you.
And most importantly remember – great things never came from comfort zones.
Written by Josie Sequeira-Shuker
Josie’s passions are in STEM, debating and problem-solving. She is currently on a gap year aiming to earn money, learn to code python and expand her industry network. She loves to write about topics relating to challenges that she has overcome so that others can learn from her experiences.