I have always been afraid of change. I hate the feeling of instability, of uncertainty, of not knowing what's waiting for me around the corner. I like consistency, I like routine, I like predictability. Maybe that makes me sound like the most boring person on the planet, but I need to know that five minutes from now, and five days from now, and five years from now that I am going to be OK. If I don't have that sense of certainty, I feel like I'm falling through a pitch black void with no way to orient myself.
When I graduated high school, I resisted all the changes associated with it with every fiber of my being. I refused to get involved with extracurriculars at my new university, I chose a major that I had no interest in but I knew would get me a solid career one day, I clutched on to my high school friends for dear life, and I went home to my parents every single weekend. As you can probably tell, freshman year was my own personal kind of hell.
As the year went on and I stewed in the misery I had created for myself, I began to understand why I was so unhappy: I couldn't let go.
I couldn't let go of the familiarity of high school, of the comfort zone it had created for me. No, high school wasn't always pleasant, but it was easy, it was structured. And instead of trying to find a way to make college life my new normal and to create new rhythms to adapt to, I rejected it entirely and tried to recreate my same high school life in a completely new environment. It was like trying to fit a square into a circle.
Flash forward to now, as I begin to set sail on my last semester in college. Since that first awful year, I've transferred schools, changed my major, made new friends, and, though I do live at home, (don't judge me, it's free and I get to cuddle my dog whenever I want), I don't use my parents as a crutch anymore. I've grown a lot and I've learned to ride the waves of change — but that doesn't mean it's not still scary.
In a few months, I'm going to graduate and enter what everyone calls "the real world." The world of full-time jobs, picking out insurance plans, becoming a homeowner, and lord knows what else. And, as you can imagine, I once again find myself as terrified as I was that first year after high school.
It feels like there's so much I don't know. At least when I was starting college, I knew I still had time to figure this whole "life" thing out. But now, time is up, and I'm still left with a million unanswered questions. Do I need to go to grad school? How do I even begin to start a career? Where will I live? What happens next?
Not knowing the answer to any of those questions makes me feel paralyzed with fear. I truly have no idea what I'm supposed to do after I walk across that stage in May and get handed a diploma that is supposedly meant to embody my preparedness for the next phase of adulthood, when, in reality, I've never felt so unprepared for anything in my life.
The next few months are going to bring some of the most chaotic and unpredictable changes I've ever experienced, and that terrifies me. There's so much uncertainty about what the future holds and it's incredibly destabilizing and disorienting.
But I've learned better than to be taken over by that fear.
I've learned that it's OK to be afraid of change — everyone is, and for good reason. It's a scary thing to abandon your normal for something new, but "new" doesn't need to mean "bad." I won't let myself shut down this time and ignore the reality right in front of me. It's time for me to graduate and move on, just like everyone else. I can either resent that reality, like I did when I graduated high school, or I can try something different this time and embrace it. I don't need to deny the fear that I'm feeling, but I don't need to be controlled by it either. I can choose differently, and this time, I intend to.
I choose to be optimistic about my future and know that whatever happens, I'll land on my feet, because I always do. I know that a lot of things are going to change and I can't try and take the past with me, otherwise, I'll be weighed down by it forever, unable to move forward and find new ways to be happy with my life. I know it's going to get difficult and ugly at times, but I also know that I am not doing this alone and I have a strong head on my shoulders. I'm still scared, but I know that I'll be OK. I have to be.