Fear of Change. There’s a word for it – metathesiophobia. It’s an irrational and undesirable fear of a future different from the status quo. At some level, we all fear change because we associate it with things that have a negative impact on us. Change that unsettles us, throws us into uncertainty or removes us from our comfort zone is not something we embrace. It arrives uninvited and drop kicks us into places we don’t want to go.
I think of myself as a strong person but this topic forced me to examine where I fall on the fear of change meter. I’d like to say I meet it head on, and maybe I did once upon a time, but now there are too many variables. I know change is unavoidable – I am not trying to dodge it or state the obvious. OK … I am trying to dodge it; but just for a little while. I want a reprieve. I have entered the No Change Zone.
I can’t argue with the reality of change – it’s here to stay. Not all change is bad. I can point to changes I have prayed for, celebrated and welcomed. Even difficult changes have blessed me in unexpected ways. Experience has given me a sixth sense about impending professional change, especially the kind with bad juju. I’ve been at it so long I can feel the Disturbance in the Force. I know how to brace myself for it, have weathered more than my fair share, and stand before you (figuratively speaking) admitting I’d like to be temporarily absolved from dealing with change.
Perception plays a large part in how we react to change. There’s the good and the not so good and both are a constant in our lives. When we have control over change we have a much easier time of it. We are good at accepting changes we actively take part in, but not every change is a welcome one. Change happens without our approval or involvement. After too many unwelcome changes, the status quo feels like a mighty fine place to be. I’m good with that.
Change is a term that also describes the experience we call living. When it comes, it forces us to think beyond the boundaries of our known world. Big or small, good or bad, hoped for and uninvited, change is a double edged sword. We seek it; we fear it and we spend the better part of our lives trying to deal with it.
Right now I am content with the boundaries of my known world. I’m not ashamed to admit it: I like it here. I’m not trying to hang on to the past or resist the future; I just want a momentary oasis of constancy, predictability and the joy of today. I am declaring a short moratorium on change by entering the No Change Zone. Hakuna Matata.
I don’t think I’m unusual. We’ve all felt this way – we’re not anti-change; just in need of a little respite so we can enjoy where we are without the worry of what is barreling down the road. Perhaps age is a factor. I’ve had a lot of experience with change, and know many of the good things in my life are the result of it. Even some unwanted changes have proven to be beneficial over time. Change has given me strength, resilience, courage and some in-your-face attitude. Change has had a piece of me – more than once. I am a Ninja change warrior. I am also emotionally tired.
Change is hard work. It shapes and molds us on a regular basis. When I reflect on the changes I’ve lived through, I know I am wiser than I was before and grateful for the experience. I’d just like a little breathing room. This is a time in my life when big changes are coming. They will be hard ones. I will face the loss of my Dad, who is 93. I will say goodbye to friends who are retiring and moving away, children who will marry and begin lives of their own, and beloved pets that are approaching the rainbow bridge. We are preparing for an empty nest. This is the natural order of things, but it’s still change and it’s hard.
During my brief stay in the No Change Zone I will make the most of the lessons change has taught me. I will channel the character traits developed by change and use them to be present for my Dad, celebrate the love of good friends, and provide support and encouragement to my children as they begin the next phase of their lives.
Last year brought us too much uninvited change. We dealt with it at the expense of so many other aspects of our lives. We have been through change before, but we were younger and less worn down. After a frightening stretch of unemployment I have a great job. I want that to last. We feel financially stable; our children are settled in good places and we are all in good physical and mental health – may it continue to be so. It’s important for me to feel the security of knowing nothing is gaining on us.
This fragile peace is welcome and needed. I know I cannot stay here permanently and I will know when it is time to leave. A little time in the No Change Zone and the words of Nelson Mandela remind me that “
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the way in which you yourself have altered.”