While change may be painful and challenging at times, resisting necessary growth for too long, will eventually break you down, make you sick, or if lucky, just force you forward ungracefully. It is simply healthier, on so many levels, to go with the flow of change rather than inhibit it.
This year, my 11-year-old son William has been my greatest teacher in the lesson of embracing change.
In September William began 6th grade at the small progressive school he has called 'home away from home' since he was 4 years old. With allegiance, he often proudly proclaimed that he would graduate from there in the 8th grade as a 'lifer'. However, within a couple of weeks after starting 6th grade, William began to wonder if this school was still the right place for him. (As his parents, we had been questioning this for a couple of years, however his commitment to school out-weighed our own concerns.) Now, it was clear to all of us that the very things that made this school perfect for him as a youngster, no longer served his growth today.
While William was feeling an urge for change, he was simultaneously uncomfortable and confused by this longing for something different. Yet, he agreed to tour a few other schools in order to weigh his options. (This was something that even a few months before he would have adamantly rejected.) William did get very excited by one of the new schools, but still felt hesitant. Choosing between staying at his current school verse moving to another felt equally challenging.
Most often, this is what change is really like. It's not as simple as choosing between good or bad, right or wrong. Sometimes we have to choose between two different kinds of discomfort in order to move forward with change.
William made the leap. He trusted into the vision of what he could grow in to over staying with the familiar. As a tween, it is nothing short of brave to leave something you know and love for new uncharted territory. Actually, at any age it can be petrifying to initiate change with out knowing how you will be received, accepted or successful. As Georgia O'Keefe shares, “I’ve been afraid every single day of my life, but I’ve gone ahead and done it anyway."
I am grateful to report, that 5 months later, William has grown in ways he (or we) could not have imagined. Besides thriving in this new school academically, artistically, and socially, he has also learned that he can trust his inner voice. He learned he can leave something familiar for the unknown; make a difficult decision with out the promise of a particular outcome. William learned it's okay to feel afraid and still move forward anyway.
And while this is a happy ending so far... the truth is, no matter how much time we spend thinking about making the 'right' decision, we still don't really know how it's going to go. Sometimes we won't see the whole staircase, but still need to take that first step; we will need to step up, or jump in, to keep moving forward with change itself.
"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith." — Margaret Shepard