Change is beautiful. Anyone who has ever felt moved by a sunrise or sunset can attest to the how the swirling colors can represent beauty, inconsistency, and a new chapter, all at once.
I recently reflected on some changes in my own life when I was presented with the opportunity to write a Song of the Week post as a task for my internship with TWLOHA. I have often proudly defined myself by the music I listen to, and it seemed like it would be a piece of cake to pick a song that represented my journey. After a couple days of searching, though, dismay began to set in. While it didn’t seem too difficult to pick a song that had been a part of my story, any song I played reminded me of who I used to be, not who I am now. In my search for a new song, I remembered a similar situation when I realized I no longer related to things the same way I used to.
I have volunteered at a high school church retreat for years, and when I volunteered last year, it was the first time I felt distanced from what was happening around me. It’s not that I couldn’t relate to the stories being shared or the community being built. Rather, I took in the activities and emotions around me and simply let them occur. Where I would have cried and fallen apart a few years before, I now felt the desire to just observe or let others know everything would be OK.
Society tells us that life is made up of phases, that eventually we will “grow out of” certain ones. But I wondered, was this what the next phase in life would be like? Feeling like an island because the things that seemed to define me now only represented who I used to be? How could that be better? The transition in energy and emotion can be very confusing and isolating. Why wasn’t I moved to tears when presented with journeys of loneliness and pain? Why wasn’t I filled with joy when we sang silly songs and ran around giving hugs? Why couldn’t all of the lyrics that had been my escape bring me inspiration when writing about my journey? Short answer: I’ve changed—but not necessarily in a bad way.
There are changes that are more difficult than others, and there are changes we never imagined we’d have to make. Change can be the answer to moving past mistakes we have made, or it could be something that pushes us two steps backward, not to mention the many changes that take time to accept or overcome. I still struggle with the idea of not being as emotionally connected as I used to be, but I wasn’t a bad person when I was more connected, and I’m not a better person for being less connected (or vice versa). Change provides us with the opportunity to love ourselves and those around us for who we are becoming, not just who we were. It’s OK that I’m not the same person I was in high school. I may not have overcome all of the struggles I have encountered since, but they don’t affect me the same way they once did.
I was surfing recently, and at one point, I was sitting on the board, riding the waves and watching the sun set. As the sky changed color and the board shifted, I was so proud of myself for simply being able to sit there and not be tipped over by each passing wave. And maybe that’s the next phase for me: being able to feel the emotions that once defined my highs and lows, but not being controlled by them.
Don’t get me wrong; it is absolutely terrifying to confess that some songs and interactions don’t move me the same way anymore. Where I used to define myself by how the world affected me, I now seem to … float. It’s not that those moments of joy aren’t there, or that moments of sadness get any easier to deal with. But the subtle and apparent changes in my life have caused me to grow in ways that continually surprise me. Similar to a sunset, some of those changes have taken time to develop, while others seem to appear out of nowhere. I may not be able to control what changes occur or where they come from, but I’m learning to see the beauty in each contrast and color.