For someone who’s made a lot of changes throughout the past year and embraced a lot of challenges — many planned, many unplanned; some good, some I wouldn’t choose to relive; some new, some repeats — change still scares the sh*t out of me.
Tomorrow I’m traveling back to the U.S. for my cousin’s wedding, a visit with family and friends in northern Michigan and a trip out to California for work. I’ll then be returning to Bariloche, a place I’ve come to love deeply, a place in which I feel at home and at peace, a place that inspires me to keep chasing and living big dreams.
This post isn’t about Bariloche, though. This post is about change and some recent thoughts on it. Throughout the past week or so, as I’ve thought about stepping back on U.S. soil and spending time in familiar spaces, if only for a few weeks, I’ve reflected quite a bit on change and how returning home after considerable time away often reveals change.
Returning to the places that were, and still are, home before this Argentina adventure and seeing the ways in which I’ve changed / grown started getting to me a few weeks ago. Started making me anxious. Anxious about placing who I am now in old, familiar settings — and seeing the differences.
It’s no secret that there’s something about being away for so long and then returning to a place that was once home, or your everyday reality, that really makes you see how you’ve changed. And change, of course, isn’t all bad; the ways in which I’ve changed aren’t all bad. In fact, I’m sure nearly all of them are quite good or positive.
Still, I’m anxious.
And as anxious as I am, I also know it’s a gift. It’s a gift to travel, live in different places, return to familiar ones and reflect on what each experience means to and for me. It’s not always a walk in the park, and while there are some things I wouldn’t want to “change” again, I also know there are many changes — breakthroughs and moments of growth — beyond the few that feel like failures or shortcomings.
There are so many changes, challenges, triumphs and failures to be celebrated for the ways they’ve contributed to who I am now, who I am eight months into this experience of living in a place that was, and still is at times, so unfamiliar from any place I’ve ever lived. I know it’s important to not hone in on the changes that get to me — the ones that trip me up and make me second-guess who I am — and instead focus on the bigger picture. To focus on all the gifts of this experience, all the ways it’s contributed to and is contributing to the woman I am today and the woman I want to be tomorrow.
I’m also realizing that while I will notice differences within myself when I return to the U.S., I’ll likely also notice that a lot of me remains unchanged. My return visit will reveal some changes; at the same time, it will show me the ways I am still the same, the ways I am still grounded in who I am. Going home, especially to northern Michigan, often does that for me.
So bring on the new, the familiar, the change, the growth and the reflection that comes with traveling and living abroad, that comes with life. In writing this, I am reminded of Steph Jagger’s words in Unbound: “The Universe doesn’t care if you’re not interested in change. Because as much as we might think we’re in charge, we’re not. The Universe is the true foreman, in charge of the renovation and the demolition that comes before it. Ignoring it won’t help. If you don’t open the door at first, it will just keep knocking. Its gentle taps will become louder, and if you don’t heed the call, it will bang on the wall, and if you ignore all the banging, it will bring out a crowbar and pry you out, no matter how many hideously tacky throw cushions you’ve piled around yourself.”
Yes, change still scares the sh*t out of me, but it’s also a mighty beautiful and mighty important thing. I’m reminded that we shouldn’t shy away from change. Because change is inevitable. We are meant to embrace change, to learn and grow from it. To become better today than we were yesterday as a result of our experiences and the ways they shape and mold us.