Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Fear of Change...

The last few weeks have been filled with all manner of "endings" and "new beginnings". I know, it is the WORST kind of cliche, but the end of the school year always brings about a lot of goodbyes (graduation, "moving up" parties, girl scout "bridging" ceremony, end of the year picnic, last day of Sunday school). And the start of summer always brings about a lot of firsts (first day of summer reading program, first day of summer vacation, first day of camp). May is typically a BRUTAL month for me because, to be perfectly honest, I am TERRIBLE at transitions.

Part of the reason for this is that I don't want to say goodbye to anyone. Ever. If you are one of the rare people who I've ever dropped off at the airport at the END of a trip, you'll know why. I am a blubbering mass of sobs. And don't even get me started about when I'm saying goodbye to people who are leaving for their next big life adventures. Poor Ricardo (my awesome teen beta for the past few years who is headed to college) must have thought I was never going to let go of the hug I gave him on Sunday.

The other part of the reason is that I just don't do well with change. I'm not OCD about it, but I do take longer than the average person to adjust to things. This is sort of hilarious considering the number of jobs I've had, the number of places I've traveled to, and the number of times I've started to write new books. But the fact of the matter is, while I do accept and roll with changes, there is always a certain amount of time needed wherein I am paralyzed by what I've decided will be "inevitable defeat". Where I fear my choices, where I second guess everything, where I convince myself I'm a total lunatic for doing this and should crawl back into my shell of safety.

These past few weeks, I've had to deal with a lot of changes both personally and professionally. And yes, I'm sure everything will work out in the end and really many great things have started to happen already, but that does not change the fact that I SUCK at accepting change.

Nor does it change the fact that change happens whether I want it to or not. Kids grow older, people quit jobs, teens go to college, teachers have babies and don't come back to school, friends leave for new adventures, life moves on.

So I've had to go back to the wisdom of magnet that was on my fridge for almost all of my childhood. You know, the cliche that actually is grounded in a lot of smartness if you think about it. The one about God granting you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (No, my parents weren't working the 12-steps or anything, they just liked to pick up these sorts of things at craft fairs).

So here's what I can't change: I can't change other people's timelines. I can't change other people's choices. I can't change other people's emotional landscapes (as much as I want so much to make them better). I can't change the weather. I can't change the passage of time. I can't change which books sell awesome and which books don't (if only). I can't change contract negotiations between book sellers and publishers. I can't change the reviews on GoodReads. I can't change that boneheads exist who say ridiculous racist things about Cheerios ads.

Here's what I can do: Believe in myself. Ask forgiveness. Ask for help. Pray. Spend time with my friends and family when I'm lonely. Hug my kids longer. Choose to let go of insecurity, jealousy, doubt, shame and whatever other garbage is keeping me from doing my job. Write. Revise. Edit. Read. Be my word as much as I can. Say yes. Say no.

It is sort of amazing how much burden can be offloaded by the words, "Well, there's nothing I can do about THAT so I guess I'll just keep going." How much time do you spend stressing over things you can do nothing about? For me, in the past, it's been quite a lot. But now I realize how heavy the sack I'm carrying has gotten and really it's partly because of all the bricks in there that are out of my control. So this summer, my goal is to leave those at the side of the road and only carry that which I can do something about.


Matthew MacNish said...

It takes more courage to let go than it does to hold on, but in the long run, it's easier.

That said, I'm kind of a mess right now. My eldest is going to be a senior in the fall, and she's on her first trip to Europe right now, so I'm a nervous wreck.

I've always been pretty good with change myself, but when it comes to my kids ... well, let's just say they have a nickname for me: "tear-dropper."

Raley Blue said...

We could be twins! Beautifully put. Have a great summer. BE.

M.J. Fifield said...

I am terrible with change, but I spend entirely too much time worrying about things I cannot change. Go figure.

Certainly healthier to let go of those things.

Jolene Perry said...

Love how you said all of this.

I love change. I jump into it and embrace it, and trust me... That has its pitfalls too, lol.

I will admit I'm anxious about you being out of communication for 2 weeks, but happy for your fam :-D

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

I need to hear this periodically. I certainly spend time over-thinking things I can never change. I think I've gotten better about it over the years-- but sometimes a thought creeps in or a moment from time that I can't drop... and I obsess over it. I have been actively trying to let that stuff go lately. I think it will take practice, but I believe it helps.