Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in the Change is Scary, Hairy, and Necessary series. Part one ran Feb. 27, part two April 7, part three April 24, part four on May 9 and part five on May 23
From the moment of conception, a human being is changing via cell mitosis and birth represents myriad changes to follow. From the cradle to the coffin, our brains and bodies are in a constant state of changing and striving to return to homeostasis (balance). To live is to experience change. The cycle of life encompasses one lifespan stage after another: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle, and senior years. Make an age-specific timeline and write the dates of your milestones. Consider gender-specific milestones. For example, female milestones include breast development, the first bra, menses, childbirth, and menopause. For males, milestones include facial hair and shaving, erections, and voice changes. Milestones for both men and women include pubic hair, sexual intercourse, the first job, high school graduation, college graduation, military boot camp, courtship and marriage, children, buying the first car or house, retirement, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other highlights to numerous to mention. Reflect upon your changes over the lifespan.
I believe Kindergarten is the time to begin education on personal change management. As we teach children to wash their hands and play nice, we could teach intentional lessons on the handling of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental changes. From potty training to puberty to pre-menopause, individuals would know what to expect and how to regulate and manage fluctuating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The adolescent years are full of changes. The agony of both physical and emotional acne scars sometimes linger throughout adulthood. Both popular and unpopular individuals experience the gamut of emotional growing pains. Perhaps your current self-image issue is related to rejection from childhood peers and you want to improve it with self-acceptance. You can’t change the past but you can change the present and the future. Albeit, you can make peace with your past.
The adult years are full of unexpected happenings: divorce and remarriage, blended families, health issues, natural disasters and loss of home and possessions, accidental deaths, employment downsizing and job relocations, victims of crime, incarceration, bankruptcy, aging parents, traumatic experiences related to war or terrorism, and the list goes on. Accepting and dealing with our losses takes time before we realize that life goes on. We ask the “why” question which often cannot be answered by mortals. Death is contemplated at the end of our senior years.
Life is a subjective enigma. That’s what I’ve discovered. Age and wisdom travel together and in the course of my years on planet earth, I’ve constructed and reconstructed my version of reality. As knowledge and experience evolve, so does my perception of meaning-making. I guess what I’m trying to say is I am constantly changing how I think, how I feel, and how I respond. My life script is being written and rewritten as I greet each sunrise and sunset. I chase authenticity, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever catch it. Living is a dynamic changing process full of joy and sorrow, victory and defeat, and other stuff in between.
Every person is a story and has a story; narratives composed of memories in seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months, years. Moments that blend in and moments that stand out. What happens between birth and death is my unique story and yours as well. The meanings of our stories shift, alter, and change. The stories we live by contain our essence. Change happens.
Jim Rohn writes, “We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons-inspiration or desperation.”
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Ohio.