When I was a small girl, my biggest worry was whether or not my best friend would be able to play with me each day. When I was old enough to go to school, it became more complicated. Who would walk to school with me? Who would I sit with at lunch? Which after-school sports or clubs should I join and would my friends also join? Oh, and of course, there were always academics to contend with. As I grew into my teenage years, my social struggles centered around who I liked, who liked me, and if I was free on the weekend. Sure, schoolwork and classes were part of the mix, but the social interactions were my focus. As I grew up, I changed a bit, but I lived in the same house my entire life until I graduated from high school. My surroundings, my friends, my life was relatively stable and static.
Until we leave college, we’re swimming in a pool with people close to our same age, going through comparable challenges, and on a basically similar path: the path to independence. And on that path, I made mistakes; boy did I make mistakes! I’ll never forget the time I dyed part of my hair black; not a good look at all. But hey, I also made good choices.
At 23, I graduated from college, moved to New York City, worked at a premier high-end fashion retailer on Fifth Avenue, and had the time of my life! That was the year when I threw caution to the wind and began living life to the fullest. I think it was, in part, because I had no image to fulfill. There was only one person in the city who knew me, so no one knew the “me” of grade school, high school, or college. No one knew me as the daughter or granddaughter of anyone; I was whomever I wanted to be. And I changed. A lot.
I started going to the theater, Central Park, concerts, fashion shows, and museums by myself. After all, my only friend was in law school and lived a 30-minute subway ride away from me, so I was solo whether I like it or not! I developed in a way that wouldn’t have happened had I remained in my hometown (also my college town) and stayed a part of the same circle of friends. Don’t get me wrong; those were great years, too, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. It was the moving away that forced me to evolve and expand my under-developed independence. I embraced the newness of that life and the opportunities it granted me.
It’s comfortable and usually easy to follow the clear path in front of us. It can be difficult and awkward to go in a different direction, but it can open doors that we never expect. Change is inevitable. Embracing change as opposed to fighting it is demanding, but the rewards are limitless. Now if I can only remember that the next time I’m confronted with change…