change is uncomfortable
Sometimes I catch myself stopping abruptly to pivot my thoughts in the middle of a conversation, when I’m the one talking.
Running on stream of consciousness, my inner thoughts spew aloud with lack of filter, lack of poise. I cringe when it happens. Other parties involved, if they notice, have every right to cringe for me too.
With certainty I can attest: these awkward transitions feel far better than catching myself blabbering on about something I don’t truly believe. Change is a skill that needs practice, and oftentimes that practice is in public.
This past year, overwhelmed at work and struggling to figure out what I really wanted to do, I started to catch myself playing pretend with my words. Muttering banal sentiments, senseless disagreements, promises I wouldn’t keep — to please people, for fear of speaking out, or, worse, apathy towards future outcomes. The first step was noticing. The next step was doing something about it, something within my control. I had to change.
But, change is uncomfortable. Hence the unfinished sentences, the off-tune melodies — dreamy ideas attempting to survive and thrive as Real World Things.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
— Mark Twain
I think the poise will return, the eloquence will develop, so long as I continue to trust the process of speaking up and through the discomfort that change brings. Every time we set out to make change, we are making something new, something that didn’t exist within us before. Or if it did exist, it got buried in a hole of life’s boundless tribulations, and we are digging it out of the rubble. I think of the awkward moments as tiny rocks getting in my eyes on the way back to the surface.
Must keep going, keep digging.
I don’t yet know what lies beyond the ditch but I am happy just to care enough to find out.
I firmly believe that as a human race we are all gifted, and capable of great, scary things beyond our wildest imaginations. I also believe in order to reach these frontiers, we must challenge our inclination to do it all, to fix it all, to change things beyond our control. We can do more by doing less. That’s my worldview now. A year ago, Old Me would have thought Future Me was crazy for declaring it. It is stupid easy to talk about change (for ourselves, for others). Making change happen and continue to happen is kind of crazy. Change is radical. Unsettling. But without it, we are left to live in a state of fear (or indifference).
By trying to do everything, we only disappoint ourselves, and fear disappointing others. I’ve been there. I’ve felt unsatisfied. I never had enough. I thought everything could be more perfect, if only I had more time, resources, creativity, alignment, control, a different boss, _______ (fill-in-the-blank-excuse). I’ve been trying to free myself of that feeling since last year, ever since I had a brief-yet-jolting moment of clarity whilst trapped in a downward spiral of negativity. I felt myself change. I’m still a work in progress, and always will be. I don’t know what I am doing but at least I can start to articulate why I’m doing it.
Change, even when public, is deeply personal. Focus is hard to find and harder to keep. You feel strong and secure when you wake up and afraid and alone when you go to sleep. You never know what someone else is thinking, unless they tell you, and even then you never know the full story and they never know yours. Y0u don’t always know what will come out of your mouth next. And I need to keep practicing feeling OK with that. Because even if it’s not perfect, it’s closer to what I wanted to say way back when, when I lacked the courage. First comes courage, then comes grace.
Grateful to all the comrades bearing with me through the change. Smiling at the mistakes. Helping me find the words worth saying.
Change is uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.