Sunday, October 29, 2017

In the middle of a great memory

Here is where people sit
when they visit my loft.
 Have a seat.
Several years ago, after my first marriage ended, I woke up in a sudden, panicky pothole of Oh my God, what's this going to be like?

A therapist said to me: "Not knowing what your new life is going to be like doesn't make the former one better." 

At this moment, I know six people who are making, or dealing with, some level of change in their lives  - divorce, relocation, loss, career change, and marriage among them. Some of them are changing, some are being changed, but all will be happier, after they finish being uncomfortable.

"I'm not a fan of change," said a friend of mine. Nobody is. We go through it for the greater good of personal growth, however, much like we go to the dentist for the greater good of not having teeth like a jack-o'-lantern when we're older. 

If this is you, I have a story and a little advice for you.

When I was a wee me, I took a job that was going to pay a lot more than I was making. It was kind of a haul, but that didn't bother me really.

It was also a stretch skills-wise, "for once," as someone pointed out at the time, because I was very good at finding "safe" jobs that I could do in my sleep and have plenty of time leftover to gossip with my co-workers about the senior executives. 

This bothered me a little.

But the move was right; it was time to have enough money to buy shoes that only went with one outfit,  it was time to move to a nicer place, and it was time to send my brain to the gym. 

I went after this hard, and I was offered and accepted the job. Five minutes after I hung up the phone my first case of workplace anxiety walked up to me and said, "Hi I'm Imposter Syndrome. Are you kidding me?"  

For a while, I didn't know where things were or how everything worked. I had trouble keeping up. To make up for what I didn't understand, I over-listened and understood nothing.  

This bothered me a lot.

A couple of weeks later, I was still freaking out if my boss knocked on my door frame with, "got a second?" and still feeling unsure how to back away from a manager who told stories of her weekend that were five years long.

This bothered me most.

I wasn't a fraud of course. I stayed with it, calmed down,  and  soon, I was able to say "Yup," without looking up when my boss tapped on my door frame, and I could even debate with people who had the good parking spaces.

But until positive changes began to multiply and ripple through my life all I knew was what I didn't have anymore.  I didn't have my old job with the co-worker who did newscaster impressions, or my Friday night drinks, or my cafeteria which served cheeseburgers like they did in my elementary school, or my boss who thought I was fantastic.

I didn't know I'd changed, I only knew I was comfortable. But until I became comfortable, what this felt like was, Oh my God. What's this going to be like?

Here are some thoughts:

Change is exhilarating and frightening and when it's both at once, it can be hard to figure out if you're comfortable or not. What you need to know when that happens is: you aren't. But you will be.

If you feel like you miss your former life it's because you see it as a thing that has ended rather than a point on the continuum of all things that evolve as they live, unless they are plants for which I am responsible.

I have learned that we don't have to do anything about that. You will change without trying. A week will bring footing.  A month will bring familiarity. Six months later, you'll know how to skirt that manager and say "yup" without looking up.

I see it this way.

The things we do, the people we see, the plans we make, the memories we have, the experiences of joy and sadness, the brilliant and bad relationships, successes and losses are the elements of a lifelong portrait in progress; one that becomes richer and more beautiful to view with each step away from the single brushstrokes that have created it.

Whether you move from your home, or change your career, or lose someone who can't stay in your life as you want them to, when all is said and done, if you are in motion, you are adding brushstrokes.

"You never know when you're in the middle of a great memory," said my son recently, who is too young to be so wise. 

He's right.  However many we leave behind, however many we have yet to make, we are always in the middle of a memory.

I wish you many great memories of today, and the happiest of those yet to be made. 

And, thank you for visiting.


  1. That was so true Susan - I am a great one for second guessing the big decisions I make (and glancing in the rear view mirror and wondering if life was better back then). But every time I trust myself and keep moving forward, I am rewarded with a life that grows and thrives - like the old saying - "no pain, no gain" I guess!

    1. The more that happens, the less angsty start of new things becomes.

  2. The path of least resistance is not always the best way. Great post!!

    1. Tha.nk you Haralee! I agree, and also believe that the more paths, the merrier

  3. Great post! Post divorce I started consciously doing things outside my comfort zone. It pushes you forward and takes you on wonderful adventures!

    1. Thank you Connie, and I agree. I do that too, and I treat it as a work out for my spirit and imagination.

  4. What an awesome post. Why does change get harder and harder instead of easier? I used to be good at it.

    1. I don't know, I think we make the stakes of outcome higher. I've noticed that I used to be way more easy to amuse, too. What's THAT about?

  5. I'm a roll the dice girl, always loved change and sometimes for its own sake.

    1. That spirit, like your heart and mind shows in your writing. Thank you for visiting, Carol.