I’m sitting here with my brain going 900 miles a minute in a jumble of emotions, thoughts, feelings and memories swirling around like a tornado. Being alone with your thoughts is a dangerous place to be, but it can also work wonders if you know how to channel and work through them. In my case, it’s always been writing (and as always, music) that’s been the sure way to calm the storm. So here I am.

Why am I thinking so much about everything and nothing at the same time? I think it’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to become more self-aware of who I am as a person and how much of an impact each and every one of the choices I make daily have on who I’ve been and who I want to become. I strive for continuous self improvement; always have and always will.

The idea of complacency to me always sits on a fine line between being terrified of remaining unevolved and simply existing and being comforted by the idea that my life is predictable and stable. However, none of the above I will ever allow myself to do, despite the fact that living life on a tiny tightrope and constantly swaying from one side to the other with threats of falling off is a daily struggle. I think — actually, I know — the other contributing factor to my current state is the fact that I’ve gone through quite a few tremendous life changes in the past year than I’ve ever gone through unintermittedly.

So, needless to say, taking the time to sit down and pick apart my inner tornado has been a pretty intense experience. And in a good way. I mean, as a human being, I know that we’re pre-programmed to be resistant to change. If you’re reading this right now, what I’m saying is probably bringing forth some of your own personal reflections on a change you’ve recently endured, and you’re probably silently nodding your head in agreement over the fact that yes, the act of change fucking sucks.

Whether or not change is brought upon on purpose or not, it doesn’t make a difference because it’s kind of like hanging out with your best friend on a private beach with white sand and turquoise water on a beautiful sunny day. You’re sitting together at that point where the beach meets the ocean and there’s just the teeniest little wave that keeps washing up on you, keeping your body at the perfect temperature where you could just sit there all day. You’re looking out at the endless stretch of ocean in front of you, then up at the crystal clear blue sky, feeling just the slightest ocean breeze and you feel nothing but sheer bliss. Like if you could, you would just freeze time at this exact moment because this is what happiness feels like. But then, in just a fraction of a second, the entire sky is suddenly full of ominous-looking gray clouds and the bright sun and beautiful blue sky are nowhere to be found. You switch your gaze to the ocean, and what was once serene and sparkling from the sunlight’s reflection is now an endless stretch of murky, angry waves that are becoming bigger by the second as the storm starts to brew.

And then, before you can even blink an eye or look at your friend, you hear a rumble of thunder and you’re being pelted so hard by rain droplets that you can’t even see two inches in front of you. The sky turns black as you’re being pummeled by this terrifying storm. You can hear your friend screaming for help but you have no idea where they are. You try to call back but you know they can’t hear your helpless cries over the deafening sound of the storm. You blindly reach your arms out, praying they’re still right next to you, but before you can even find out, a tidal wave of the once-beautiful, peaceful and zen ocean that had been your happy place for so long approaches you out of nowhere and swallows you whole into its now dark, murky and sinister waters, showing you no mercy as you’re helplessly dragged away from everything you once knew to be everything you ever needed to be happy. You’re being flipped upside down and tossed around in every direction, being pulled deeper and deeper into the unknown as your lungs are screaming for air and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And that’s exactly what change feels like. Now, fortunately, I’ve reached a point where I’ve come to terms with the fact that all of our lives are just a series of changes. Some we have control over, and some have control over us. Most are gradual and expected, like going to high school for 4 years and making the transition to college, but they’re still scary nonetheless because it’s venturing outside of everything you knew your life to be and into unchartered territory. However, you’re still somewhat comforted by the fact that you know where you’ll be for next few years of your life, and you settle back into your bubble fairly quickly and carry on.

On the other hand, some are sudden, completely unexpected, and can have an enormous impact on your life, from getting fired from your dream job to your loved one being involved in a horrible car accident, leaving them paralyzed. The bottom line is, change is a part of life, and the bigger the change is for you, the more it transforms you as a person. Along with this, the more you willingly venture out of your comfort zone, plunging headfirst into the unknown, the more you’re going to grow and evolve as a person because every single moment we experience has its own unique impact on us.

While few of us truly enjoy the turmoil changes bring upon us, it all boils down to the matter of how we choose to handle them. When, one day, a tidal wave of change comes rolling through and crashes into your life, you have two choices: You can either (a) accept it, cling on for dear life, do all you can to adapt to your new situation and float on, or (b) fight it tooth and nail until it finally forces itself in regardless of your efforts, so you begrudgingly acknowledge its presence but spend the rest of your life letting your resentment consume you and swallow you whole. Some of us will be fortunate enough to only be swallowed up momentarily, shaken up and tossed around until we make it back to the surface again, and some of us will be sucked down into the deepest, darkest depths and will be held there much longer, until it feels like we’re down to our last breath. What’s a terrifying experience for some may feel like a quick dip in a tidal pool for others who have previously encountered a few storms along the way, and sometimes a terrible storm can damage us in ways we never knew possible.

What’s certain is that these terrible storms can all be weathered. Not because we embrace them with open arms, but because we really don’t have a choice. Throughout our lifetimes, we’ll all meet people who have been swept away by their own tidal waves. Some of them will make you hope they don’t ever encounter one of greater magnitude in fear of whether they’ll ever make it out or not, and some of them will make you question how they were ever able to escape at all.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. No matter what the size of the wave of change that will engulf you next, the power it holds can only be determined by you. You can either let it take its course and find your way back to the sunny surface again, where you’ll have evolved and grown into an ultimately stronger person more able than ever before to take on the next wave. Or, you can let it flood and consume you entirely, where the light of the surface will always be just within eye distance but never quite reachable.

And I, for one, will always choose to adapt, evolve and continue floating on.