When I was younger and a good thing happened in my life, I was always full of wishes for it to last forever. I’d say to myself “please PLEASE let me have this person in my life forever!!!” or what have you — I’d plead and beg to myself that things wouldn’t change and that it was something I could keep, in its exact state, as it was in that moment. I’m sure most of those of you reading this can relate.
It’s like that first love you had that was unlike anything you had ever experienced and allowed you to experience a whole new range of emotions and maybe made you feel a little more grown up, like you could say you finally knew what this “love” thing was all about.
It might’ve helped you form your identity by having this new experience with another human being and made you feel more important, because you were getting extra validation of your actions and your existence with this close relationship, and through each other you begin to meet new people who see you not just as an individual but a unit.
But as I have gotten older, the passage of time has told me the necessity of change. However, it has also shown me how resistant some of us still are to it. Even as we age, most of us have a plethora of external circumstances that continue to validate our actions. We learn to look to external sources — be it people, structures and systems such as school, accomplishments, careers, and what have you — as tools to measure our existence by.
It’s hard to ignore, because it happens by habit and by growing up in a society with structured systems that each of us plays a part in. Everything becomes a matter of relativity to something else; we’re making less money than someone else, we’re a different color than someone else, we didn’t accomplish a certain number of degrees compared to someone else, and thus the list goes on forever…and in even more subtler ways we might not immediately recognize.
We might be in and out of relationships that put us in different life situations where we have varying social statuses or introduce us to situations that are new and we discover new dimensions to add to what we understand as our identity.
Sometimes we notice how other people (or groups of people) react to us as a person and use that to understand ourselves or our placement in this world. Our identity really ends up becoming the sum of comparisons against something else, or a sum of the reflection of others’ opinions. And sometimes, we forget to learn how to look beyond all of it to reveal the source.
It might sound in words more simple than it is, but it is really complex, because from the time we were born, we have been introduced to life on earth and society as it is in this current state. We learn to understand ourselves only in the context of the current state of our world. If we don’t naturally explore other ideas frequently in our minds, learning to uncover our core can be a major undertaking.
These days, I use meditation and frequent contemplation to discover what deeply rooted perceptions I might have that were built from the time I was a kid or during days where I didn’t know better. I try to observe my day-to-day emotions and actions and see where they might be stemming from, or what is provoking them.
In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than the evolution of the self. Relationships of all kinds, achievements and the like are important, but if they are becoming a hindrance to your potential, this is likely an issue or will become one. Healthy relationships and circumstances should be helping you to propel you forward, or should at least be supportive as you reach new heights in your understanding of your self.
And without change, we would suffer. We’d never grow, be pushed out of our comfort zone, and come to understand the world in new ways. We’d never reach new heights of happiness or release the chains of our mind that might be holding us back.
If change comes knocking at your door, open it with welcome arms and remind yourself that it might be the opportunity of a lifetime, even if it’s disguised behind a veil.
“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a person’s life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.”
— Martin Buber