Change

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I recently started a new job, so change is on my mind. To varying degrees and for a variety of reasons, it seems to be right on the surface for many of my friends and family, too. As the old saying goes, “the only constant in life is change,” so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people feel like change is in the air.

Depending on where your focus lies, you might be caught up in the changes we’re experiencing at the national level, or you might have a lens that keeps you closer to home right now. Either way or somewhere in between, most of us would probably agree that change can be challenging. It might also require us to be brave.

A co-worker shared a TED talk she recently watched on the topic of raising brave girls. Caroline Paul talks about the gender-based messages we often send to our children about change and risk (most of the time probably without realizing it), particularly how boys are encouraged to take a chance and girls are cautioned to be careful.

Her points, however, relate to all of us, male or female, old or young, especially when we’re experiencing personal change. Change, whether imposed or chosen, inherently involves risk. And risk, no matter how small, requires some degree of bravery.

Paul notes that bravery does not necessarily come naturally – it must be learned. Every time we find ourselves at a point of personal change, we have at least two choices: embrace it or resist. To me, resistance rarely feels functional. Even when the change does not seem to be for the better, it’s still right there in front of us, and we can put up a fight or jump in to try to shape it for our benefit as much as possible.

Making a change almost always puts us outside of our comfort zone – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. But comfort zones don’t challenge us, and therefore they don’t change us. We rarely need to be brave in our comfort zone.

The downside is that comfort zones tend to limit us. How many times have you stayed in your comfort zone for too long, and when you finally make a change you look back and think, “Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?”

As parents, I believe we have a responsibility to encourage growth and change in our children, and that means modeling the behavior by taking some risks ourselves. I can’t say I know what I’m doing in my new job yet, and I certainly have had the typical thoughts of, “What if I’m terrible at this?” and “What if I regret making such a big change?”

But when I talk to my soon-to-be high schooler about my day, I’m careful to talk about what challenged me, how I looked for solutions, and what I learned. Because really, don’t we all want for our children and ourselves the characteristics that change and the accompanying requisite bravery bring?

Resilience, trust in oneself and confidence in one’s own decisions make us stronger and more competent humans. Change is what gets us there – all we need to do is be a little brave.

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