Life changes all too often, and it’s mostly when one is unaware. There is never a banner that reads, “checkpoint” or “you are proceeding to the next level, proceed with caution.” Changes come up unexpectedly. I’m not saying that changes aren’t good—they are, even when it’s not in our favor. Changes help us to grow, make progress, and it teaches us different skills, like how to adapt or be more responsible. Yet, no one likes change. For me, I’m bittersweet toward them. I don’t want to remain stagnant and I don’t like when things get boring, yet at times there is a fearfulness deep inside because I don’t know what’s coming.
Now, I live alone in my very own apartment. I make the rules about everything. I make the big decisions and the small ones. I do the chores and I am the only one who has the keys to my door. It feels great … outright exonerating! But how did I get here? It happened in the span of a few months, if not weeks. My new job suddenly forced me to consider the options of staying with family or moving closer to work. Second, I was offered an apartment at a very low cost, if I moved in right away. But the ultimate boost, which left me with only one option, was when I was told to leave home. Was I scared? Not really. I had lived on my own before. I had prepared myself emotionally and financially because I knew that the day would come for me to leave. In truth, I was waiting for this change to happen. So this change did not catch me off guard. I wasn’t knocked off my feet; I simply rolled with it.
But change doesn’t always happen that way, does it? Most times we aren’t prepared. Times like when you learn that you’re pregnant but didn’t plan for it. Or getting kicked out at a young age and have no clue about what it’s like to live on your own. Or what about when a certain illness strikes you or a close family member, the one where your sustenance comes from? How do you cope then? These are the changes that are so frightening and leave that awful feeling of fear deep inside your stomach. When your thoughts can only focus on the circumstance, when sleep cannot come because your mind is uneasy. Change has come and all you have to do is to deal with it. There isn’t a way to turn back the hands of time, walk backward so you can change the present into the past. There isn’t even a way to jump over your current present, such that your future can be your present. All that’s left is for you to deal with it, cope with it, live with it for the moment or forever. What then?
Sadly, some people entertain suicidal ideations, while others go right out and commit suicide. Some people choose unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking alcohol, smoking, or simply becoming numb, nonchalant, and apathetic toward life and their current circumstances. I can’t say which one is worse. But I do know that none of these choices help us to get over the circumstances.
I recall the very first time I was kicked out, at seventeen years old, and I remember feeling this invisible cloud that was hovering over my head. I didn’t have a mother or a father to run to for refuge. I knew that my future looked great but I couldn’t figure out how I was going to overcome this obstacle in my present. I didn’t have any resources or experience to make it through this time. The only thing I knew how to do was pray. I cried to God and I told him I needed a place to stay as I was about to start university soon. Right after, I followed my heart and a week before school started I got a place on campus; a place that was filled to capacity had an opening for me! For the next five years of my life, that one drastic change enabled me to grow into a responsible adult, capable of thriving in new environments. This change turned out to be a positive. Would I want to go through the exact situation again at seventeen? No!
I remember how I felt about going off to Mexico alone at twenty-two. That same knot was present in my stomach. I felt the thrill of going to a new country, excited that I was going to live with a Mexican family for two months, but scared because I didn’t know what would happen. I had to find my own way to the family’s house. How would I tell the cab driver where I was going with the little Spanish I spoke? But when I arrived, everything went smoothly. I figured it all out and truthfully, there was nothing to worry or feel scared about.
Now, I realize that I’ve only dealt with a few minor circumstances, nothing to turn my whole world upside down. No unexpected deaths, no child births, no traumatic illnesses. Neither did any natural disaster came and shake my house down, nor was there any car crashes that disfigured my face/body. People’s circumstances vary according to the lesson they are intended to learn. And as much, I could not put myself in those people’s shoes; the idea is that change is something we all face at some point in life or another. So far, I’ve learned to cope with my minor changes and obstacles and I expect that they will serve a lesson when I have to endure other major changes. The greatest feeling though, is when one can look back and feel a sense of accomplishment because we are standing at a safe and stable place. So the only problem with these changes is that they happen too unexpectedly. Since we have to go through it whether or not we want to, it would at least be nice if there was a big flag that read, “Change is coming! Be cautious.”