Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw
Changing oneself is often one of the hardest things that we as people can undertake, but there comes a time in almost everybody’s life where we have to change or continue living our lives in a way that we don’t want. Recognizing and accepting the need for change is often as hard as the actual process of changing is itself. Therefore, the whole ordeal is not an easy one, but a necessary one, and that’s what we have to accept.
So as I sit here writing this at 19 years of age, you might be wondering what I know of change, and you’d be right to ask because I’ve asked myself that same question many times before. Before I begin, let me try and answer that question. I consider myself a thoughtful person, and as such a reflective person as well. This has led me to think over the things that I have both experienced myself, and seen others experience that have helped to shape me into who I am today. I have seen members of my family destroy themselves because they refused to recognize that they needed to make a change in their lives. I have seen people I care about push me away because they are too afraid to make the change that they readily admit that they need, and all of it hurts. So I want to think that I know about change, and whether or not I do is up to you to decide.
So let me tell you my story.
When we are growing up we never think that anything will ever happen to us. We have a hard time accepting the fact that we aren’t invincible. Where I went wrong was thinking I wasn’t like this. I consciously thought that I didn’t think I was invincible, but I was wrong. At some level I thought I was invincible in my youth and I could do what I want without fear of repercussions. This, as you can imagine led to some pretty poor outcomes. I’ve always been someone who does things to excess – I really don’t know when to stop. If I find something I like I will just continue to do it. For example if I find a new song that I really like, I will basically listen to it repeatedly until I can’t stand it anymore. However, the problem with that example is that unlike with music I don’t always end up stopping whatever it is I’m doing to excess. Another example would be when I get to college I didn’t want to change how I went about studying and participating in class, and that didn’t work. But college was another world entirely and it wasn’t something I was prepared for, honestly.
College for me was a place for me to hide from the things that had always brought me down at home. My social anxiety that had plagued me for most of high school, which essentially made my social life non-existent outside of the school grounds, because I was terrified to ask people to hang out. I realized one day that it wasn’t some outside factor that was holding me back from socializing, rather, it was me holding myself back. Slowly, I overcame that particular challenge. To this day whenever I ask people to hang out, there is a part of me that is still terrified, but now I don’t let that hold me back. College has allowed me to start over and make new friends. These friends were ones I could actually hang out with outside of class because that was pretty much the only opti on. College for me was essentially me looking away from the problems that faced me at home. There, I was introduced to things that I said I would never do, and yet I ended up doing anyways. It wouldn’t have been a problem if I didn’t struggle with doing things to excess. During my freshman year there came a point where it became essentially impossible to hide from the problems at home. As my grandfather was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer, things only continued to deteriorate with my own struggles, I now realize looking back.
I entered into my sophomore year (I am currently a sophomore) a few weeks after my grandfather died, and that hit me hard – harder than I even realized. Things got so bad for me that I brought myself to the very edge of ruin. I was basically in a car teetering on the edge of a cliff and if I leaned too far forward that would be the end of me. So when I hit my rock bottom, I knew I needed to change, and I knew I needed to do it fast. I’ve sought help and I’ve started to make the changes that I need to live the kind of life that I want to live.
There is a reason I shared this story with you – and that is because I want you all to understand that you don’t need to come so close to the edge of ruin like I did. I believe that all of us know when we need to change something in our lives and so the problem lies not in us figuring out that we need to change but in recognizing that need. If I had only taken the time to look in the mirror and think for a second I would have known what I had needed to do far sooner and I would have saved a lot of people a lot of hurt and worry. So I want to end this with a challenge and a quote – I want to all of you who know you are flawed and know you need to change to take a step forward the distance does not matter so as long as you are going forward and not backwards.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek – Barack Obama