I’ve had a lot of change lately. That’s an understatement, actually. In the last year, I’ve gotten pregnant, been promoted, had a baby, went back to work, quit my job, started freelancing full time, and dyed my hair blue.
Things have changed so much so fast, and I still feel like I am reeling.
Here’s what I know: I am happier than I have ever been, probably because I feel more like myself than I ever have. My life is finally a representation of my values, and that feels amazing and right and whole.
But I also feel like I’m floundering. Each time I start to find a rhythm, I am pummeled by change. The carpet is ripped out from under my feet, and I have to start all over again.
Change is hard. Even when change is good, when it is right, when it aligns with your soul and your dreams and your vision, it is so very hard. Because we are creatures of habit. And things like routine and structure are comforting. It’s nice to know what to expect.
But it still shocks me when I brush up against the painfulness of change. I trick myself into thinking that discomfort is a sign that I’m on the wrong track. It makes me doubt myself, or second guess my decisions. I get frustrated that it’s not easier. I question my motives, my gratitude, my resiliency. I assume it’s my own weakness or lack of devotion that’s responsible for all this discomfort.
I forget the fact that change is hard because change is hard. Always. For everyone. No matter what.
When you jump into a pool, you are shocked by the coolness of the water. No matter how hot it is or how ready you are to swim, the water is biting and cold and all consuming. It doesn’t matter that you’ve jumped into pools your entire life, your body is still shocked by the experience.
This is how it is with change.
It’s a shock to the system.
Every. Single. Time.
Even when you want it. Even when you prepare for it. Even when you know it’s coming.
It’s still shocking. That’s not a reflection of you. That’s the definition of change. That’s part of the deal.
You fight through the discomfort. You warm up slowly. You adapt. Your body acclimates.
And you swim.
Here’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever received when it comes to change: you’ll figure it out.
When my boss/ mentor was retiring and I was being promoted to her position, I had two weeks to train with her and learn as much as possible.
I questioned everything, wanting to know what I would need to do in every possible scenario. I wasn’t just covering my bases, I was driving myself (and her) crazy, trying to envision every possible outcome.
Eventually, she said to me: “I can’t tell you what to do in every potential situation. You already have everything you need. And when a situation comes up that you’re not sure about, you’ll figure it out.”
It was a small exchange, but a huge revelation for me. Instead of feeling like I have to overly prepare (Do all the things! Read all the books! Conduct all the research!) I can just trust that no matter what issues arise, I will figure out how to deal with them when the time comes.
I have everything I need. All the tools are set in place. Things will come up – of course they will. And when they do, I will figure it out. Choosing to live like this, with the belief that I am prepared and am ready for whatever happens, makes the shock of change a little more bearable. Instead of fighting the current, I’m swimming with it.
(Side note: Danielle LaPorte has a great video on this that I’m obsessed with).
In this season of massive change, I’m trying to remember that it’s okay to feel multiple things at once.
I’m Happy with a capital H. I am also struggling. I am also anxious. I’m also giddy with disbelief that this is my life.
All of these things are possible. One emotion does not detract from the other. Happiness and Sadness and Fear and Passion can all stand in the same room if we make space for them. The belief that we can only feel one emotion at a time is incredibly harmful and a disservice.
Something I’ve noticed about new mothers is the way we always justify our struggles with “but I love my baby so much” or “I shouldn’t complain, I have it so good” or “but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
I do this all the time. I’ll vent about how exhausted I am or how emotionally laden this phase of life feels, and instead of just owning that, I always end it with “but it’s totally worth it.”
Can we all just agree that it’s a given that we love our kids even when we complain or talk about the difficulties of motherhood? It’s okay for us to say this is really hard without feeling guilty for having an emotion other than pure bliss? Because this IS hard and it’s magic. It’s every emotion under the sun multiple times a day and we don’t have to feel guilty about that.
Even when life is going great, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is selling something (probably on Instagram).
Motherhood is the epitome of change. And change is hard. And good. To think we are supposed to exist in this season without struggling is naïve. We can be the happiest we’ve ever been and cry more than we ever have and all those things are real and valid and don’t contradict each other.
No matter where we are in life, let’s give ourselves permission to feel everything we feel without judgement. Let’s show up and welcome all the emotions and grow through the change and remember that one way or another, we will figure it out.
Because we will. We’re doing it right now.
Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.