Change can be scary.
One reason why? Because change makes other people uncomfortable.
It recently came to my attention that between my music and #RockYourLife stuff, some of my friends were criticizing me. As you may know, I didn’t start all this until I was 38 years old. And I heard that I was being judged. One friend, who I’ve known for roughly twenty years, said I was getting “weird,” and I heard that she and another friend had a lot of general eye-rolling and head-shaking over my choices and changes.
Yeah. Changing does that. There’s a huge risk involved when you change. When you push, when you dream to live bigger, when you put things out there, there are always going to be those who don’t like it. It’s scary, because rejection from the herd goes against our built-in DNA driven need for acceptance and need to not be left behind.
But times are different, of course. We aren’t fighting for survival in caveman days. We aren’t going to get left behind by our pack and freeze to death or starve because we didn’t have the tools to kill a buffalo. We still fear the rejection and the dissociation from our herd, though. The feelings are deeply embedded, and when we strike out on our own, we feel like we might die if we aren’t still accepted.
I started out my music life in an all-girl band, just a few years ago. To be in a group was comforting, because we had each other, so if there was rejection from the larger herd, you were in it together: a mini-herd, if you will. But what happens when you don’t have that? What happens when you want change, but you’re out on your own? What happens when your built-in mini-herd, or your family, rejects your change?
Years ago had a friend (we’ll call her Mandy) who wanted to change her health. She got a trainer. She lost about 50 pounds. She looked great, she felt great. I admired what she had done, and how she had taken control and was working so hard. When I asked her about it, though, I was surprised. Mandy said that her husband was unhappy. He was giving her a hard time and was extremely bothered by her weight loss. Cut to a few months later: they filed for divorce.
Why does this happen? Should we let this hold us back from change?
When I decided I needed to leave my first marriage, I knew that no one in either family was going to like this change. I was on my own, and everyone was pissed. Everyone. If my mom had still been alive, I wonder if I would have been able to leave, to make that change. But she wasn’t, and I knew that I had metaphorically woken up, and there was no going back to sleep. I knew that if I didn’t leave, I would be left to toss and turn at night and wonder about the life I should be living. I wasn’t really me in that setting, and I knew I had to push through serious discomfort to get to where I needed to be.
The rejection from my family-herd could have, very easily, held me back. It sucked, there’s no question about that. But I kept going. I kept pushing. Just like I do now- with this website and my music career, I don’t have the comfort of the mini-herd that I once had. But I push because I know that the pain of not changing and not moving forward and not trying is much, much greater than the pain of doing it.
I don’t have a magic potion to cure this pain of growth and change. But what I do know is that it’s always worth it. In the long run, living the life that your heart calls you to live is 100% worth it.
And as for the friend who criticized me and said I was getting weird, that’s ok. Weird is relative. Maybe I am weird. But I’d rather be that than stuck, I’d rather be that than stagnant. I push myself and I try new things and I change. And who knows? Maybe it’s a trigger for her.
Feeling ready for change? Ask yourself these things:
1. Will this change harm anyone (like, actually harm)?
2. Will making this change open me up to new possibilities?
3. Am I unhappy with the way things are right now?
4. Am I going to be stuck wondering “what if”?
5. Who do I admire? How to they live? Do I need to try that in order to feel like I am getting the most from life?