Change is the thing that opens us up.
It melts what’s frozen solid, cuts away at what’s sealed shut and breaks what’s seemingly healed. It’s the birthplace of vulnerability, the crossroads of doubt and trust, hesitation and willful action.
Change is a fresh paper cut from a love note telling promises of the sweetest tomorrows—if only we hold out through the bloodshed today.
But for me, change has consistently meant only one thing: a silent retreat to somewhere safer, somewhere out of sight, somewhere far away so I can hide myself from anyone who might look for me.
For a long time, this didn’t seem to be an issue; I was convinced no one would notice my absence. And for a long time, I thought I was right—until someone did notice and I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to explain that things were changing—that I was changing—and that I was terrified of everything.
It was then I realized that deep down, I did want someone to come searching for me. I wanted to be found. To be helped. To be held. To be seen despite the chaos of change to which I’d seemingly submitted myself a bit too frequently and dramatically.
And so I was torn between wanting to hide and wanting to be seen, simultaneously trying to suppress and bring forth a way to communicate. I knew I needed support amidst such turbulence, which meant I’d need to reach out; still, as though I were utterly ashamed for even existing (because I was), so much of me wanted to hide while moving through the process of change and transition yet again.
To this day, with every shift I make, whether big or small, my insides thrash at me for silence. “Don’t speak,” they say with a force gentle enough to convince,”you’re too wide open and everything’s too sharp out there. Protect yourself. Hide. Cover your voice; you have nothing to say in such a fragile state.”
And so in this sense, change is a perfect storm—a dynamic clashing of the intuitive need to reach and the fearful desire to hide, bringing past, present and potential all under the scope of the very thing that’s changing: perspective.
The good news was that I realized this could be easy: I could dance around the storm, hiding along the outskirts, waiting to reemerge once things calmed down. If I could see the storm and all the shit swirling around in its winds, I’d certainly be wiser to avoid it.
But the bad news was that keeping away from the storm—of which I’d become so keenly aware—only pushed me along in the absolute wrong direction, enabling me to remain hidden and frozen and sealed shut… Which made everything all the more miserable and painful and conflicting.
I was still stuck in the middle of these opposing forces, only now it was becoming clearer that the choice between them mattered less than the ultimate purpose of this whole thing: changing, transforming, being okay—because obviously things weren’t working. Otherwise, there’d be no need to change anything at all, or at least not so drastically.
What was closed in me needed to be opened; what was falsely healed needed to be readdressed and reconfigured; what was hiding needed to be brought forth—a lofty to-do list full of undoing and un-becoming and hoping to do it better this time.
And that’s the thing about change: it doesn’t just happen for the sake of happening. It happens because it must. It arrives with a purpose and lingers with an elusively prodding voice until we hear it, listen to it and act on it—which, to be clear, isn’t as easy as I just made it sound. It takes a few rounds of opening up and shutting down and getting paper cuts and grappling with the heart pangs that demand our hiding or reaching out, moving through the cycle over and over again.
That’s another thing about change: Its job is to beat the sh*t out of us.
That’s just how it works.
That’s how we open up. That’s how we adjust. That’s how we reinvent and recreate and do things again but differently. That’s how we grow in perspective, how we become clearer and warmer and more capable of loving. And then we become more capable of trusting our reach instead of running away to hide. And then we love some more. And then they find us—the someones we’d hoped for all along, even before we’d realized our longing for their presence.
That’s how we change. We acknowledge. We allow. We walk through the perfect storm of all the things that have brought us to where we are and we direct our feet to take us where we’ll go: out in the middle of the raging winds, fully awake, entirely aware, no longer hiding, but simply being in the thick of it all—existing, therefore changing.
And so change is the thing we must allow as it happens, because it will happen. And it will happen because it must.
But if we listen while we live, we’ll know it when it comes—and perhaps we’ll have learned enough to breathe easy at the sight of the storm.
Author: Sara Rodriguez
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Chris Lawton via Unslpash