By Craig Funston
I think one of the most accurate signs of growing up is how one views change. The shift, then, runs from being young and frequently changing to old, er, mature, and rarely changing. I’m in the latter category: resistant to change and growing up as I am growing old.
I personally have run the gamut of being very much an agent of change for change sake to an agent of change for conviction sake. I’ve gone from a “I’m-bored-let’s-change” view to “let’s-change-because-something-needs-is-failing” mood. And no matter how they appear to be similar, they are vastly different.
As I stare down my 62nd birthday, reflecting over these past few decades, I am discovering how little I embrace change the way I once did. Don’t get me wrong, I am still an agent of change, but in terms of the motivation and method, I no longer pursue every opportunity that comes my way.
There comes a point in one’s life journey that those things that have been attempted and tackled no longer bring that same rush or stimulization they once did.
And there’s a comfort level (also known as a “zone”) where contentment is productive, where status quo is good. Believe me, I never thought I would ever say that.
In our teens and twenties (maybe even our thirties), we embrace—even chase after–change: It’s the thing to do—and why not, everybody else is doing it? Our parents (or teachers or others in authority) would take a stand, so we take the opposite position, because we don’t want to be the same as them. After all, what do people who have weathered life’s storms, fought life’s fires, and stayed life’s course, know anyways?
Young reader alert: They know a lot more than we give them credit for.
In those prolonged adolescent years, it’s much about “snap, crackle, and pop,” with limited substance, passing fancies, and on-going rushes. It’s a fickle and frenzied gong show, if you will.
But that could also be a mask for instability (and insecurity). When you’re young, change can be part of the quest for identity and acceptance. However, change for change sake may not necessarily be a positive thing.
There is a point where we may see ourselves as change agents—you know, embracing fresh and new ideas, different from week to week, on the cutting edge, and moving from idea to idea, flitting here and there–that philosophical merry-go-round, of you will: lots of movement but not really going anywhere productively.
In my day, one expression of change was hair, clothing, and music. Today, you guessed it, it’s hair, clothing, and music, except there are strange hair cuts, less clothing and worse music. Oh, and there’s more piercings. And these are simply outward expressions; there are many others.
As we slowly mature (I’m avoiding the word “age,” as I am neither wine nor cheese), we usually implement change because whatever was working is no longer effective. It’s a measured pro-active (not reactive) choice. It’s not so much change for change sake any longer, but change for a better, more pragmatic result.
The old adage, “been there, done that, now what?” fits in well here.
For me personally, it has taken years of hard knocks, tough experiences, and major disappointments (and maybe throw in family life while we’re at it)—maybe we should call it “the school of life”– to “see the light.” At 62, I wish I had known then what I now know I’ve heard that line for years; now I’m repeating it.
Every imaginable habit, every possible perspective, has been tweaked —and it’s a good feeling to be comfortable with who you are. I may or may not like who I am, but I am who I am, and I am okay with that.
I better slow down here. After all, this is a column, not a diary.
Once I have found something that’s tried and true, I stick with it longer. Once I am able to tweak a “mistake,” I have no motivation to changed it again.. And again, when it comes to “old people,” I long more than ever to benefit from their wisdom of experience, even at my “young” age.
Maybe, just maybe, that’s why I talk to myself more these days.