The only constant in life is change, goes the adage. Fearful, unexpected, unavoidable. Yet we don’t count it among the many expectations in life. Things would be simpler if we did.
Human beings have a complicated relationship with change. While it is both inevitable and essential for growth, change can also be deeply uncomfortable – especially if it feels involuntary, or out of our control, according to an article in Harvard Business Review.
I remember being wary of change as a teenager and then as a young girl because everyone would talk about their school and colony, while I had no nostalgia to share because of my father’s transferable job. Just as I was settling down in life to create memories, my father got his last posting and I got uprooted again. The change came. Once again, disrupting the flow of my life.
When it came to marriage, it was more about settling down at one place rather than with one person. So, I staved off all proposals that would take me out of the city. Here was my chance of keeping change at bay. I had forgotten that marriage itself is change. In fact, calling it a change is an understatement. It’s a transformation. You graduate from becoming a daughter to a wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and a mother and much more.
Twenty years and two children after the consistency of marriage came the shock every married woman dreads. I lost my husband. No, this wasn’t a change, it ,was a major shift in life. From then on, a new chapter kept adding, almost on a daily basis with me developing like a character in a novel – from chapter to chapter. Here’s hoping that the last chapter is still far away but clearly, half the novel is over.
Before I move on to the next part, here’s my defining moment. I decided to go bald, as in completely shave off my hair to mark my metamorphosis. An awakening. Liberation. Symbol of my inner strength. A new distinct identity that would define me. I made no efforts to conceal my bald pate. It shone like a crown until my whites started to sprout. The phoenix had risen. Now I wear my white crown with pride.
In the first few chapters of the second part of the novel, I have moved far from my siblings and friends who had created a safety net around me. It is my becoming. My self-actualisation.
I took a major leap by shifting from Delhi (believe me, it takes a lot for a Delhiite to budge, despite the pollution) to the far end of Gurgaon, almost near Manesar, where none of those who love me can reach at the drop of the hat. This was a conscious change that cannot be undone easily because I bought a house, my permanent abode. I left everyone perplexed and a tad worried too because the house-hunting had begun on the basis of two irrevocable conditions that I would buy a house in south Delhi within reachable distance of a loved one.
A very very dear friend of mine, who had taken care of my emotional mess after I lost my husband could not fathom it and worried for me. It was almost like a weaning. She still frets sometimes and adds to her stress level even if she gets an indication of my having as much as a flu. But deep inside, she’s convinced now that I have taken charge of my physical and mental well-being.
As for me, I am at peace despite the roller-coaster ride of the chapters in the first half of my life’s novel. I am managing to retain my old self while embracing the change in my surroundings and the new people around me. To those who greet me with a ‘Hi’ I say ‘Hi’.
Others say ‘Radhe Radhe’, ‘Sat Sri Akal,’ ‘Jai Mata Di’ or ‘Om Sai Ram’. I am attending kirtans, paath and Gurbani, going for early morning Prabhat pheris, Ganesh puja, Chhat puja, doing yoga, walk, swimming, treks, picnics, pot luck parties and am even going for my first kitty party (at the age of 56) soon! To think of it, I had missed this all my life. And it’s not as if the ‘partrakar’ in me is dead. I still read, write, edit, take part in ‘progressive’ discussions, am an aware citizen.
A cardinal rule of embracing change is not to judge the new people in your life or the new environment. You will only get entangled in an emotional quagmire. That, in a nutshell, is my life’s mantra.
Didn’t the Bard say, “ There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
My take Here are some other methods of embracing change, which are hidden in my abridged life story. They work and I validate.
- Clearly, your response to drastic changes in life will determine your happiness quotient and your present life. It is important to acknowledge the change and work through the challenging emotions consciously.
- It is not necessary to give up your past identity because it’s a part of you. It defines the present you. Just make a distinct break with the past that is an impediment to your present. Otherwise, you will get stuck in the emotions that are associated with the past and believe me, when that happens, it is very difficult to move on. They can block your transition. So, block them instead. Find that one moment that you would like to forget or something that has caused you agony. It will become easier.
- Now, try to find a bridge that connects your past to the present. Identify parts of the story that can form a link with the present. If need be, even glorify the past that you are proud to acknowledge.
- Talk about it, share it with others. They will understand. You have embraced change.