A few weeks ago, I talked about transitions and how to pay attention to both the monumental and the subtle changes. Clearly, people are capable of change.
On the other hand, I think there’s a pretty substantial part of all of us that is just fundamentally never going anywhere, and it probably shouldn’t. Once, my husband I were talking about our kids’ futures, and he said, “It’s impossible to tell what they’ll be into as an adult and what kind of a career they’ll want.”
I’m not so sure. When I considered what each of us wanted to be when we were little, what our dreams were growing up, not much had changed. Probably somewhere in this house, there’s a journal from when I was around eleven with “Write a bestseller” at the top of a list of future goals. So many people hold on to that childhood goal either as a career or a hobby, or at least there’s some core characteristic that forges their paths. My husband wanted to be an architect, and he’s a civil designer, fork in the road but not a different highway altogether.
Recently, I spent a few hours with my oldest friend. She’s not old; our friendship is. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten. Of course, neither of us is exactly where we thought we’d be when we played “house” or stayed up late eating candy bars and talking. Still, it’s amazing how we still know each other to the core. Traits, core values, personality quirks, whatever you want to call them.
It’s easy to fight yourself or others, to want to be different than who you are and to rid yourself of all your bad habits and problematic personality flaws. It’s easy to long for change, and while change can be great, it’s also important to embrace what is quintessentially you.
What a joy and gift it is to let go of the need to change everything and to just be me. And like most lessons, it can guide me in multiple contexts.
For example, when relationships disconnect or have problems, take time remember what was at the core of the relationship. How did you define yourself? What was your goal? If a class is going badly, don’t change everything to try to make it better. Keep an eye on what you don’t want to lose. In novel revisions, keep a list of plot elements and character dimensions that fundamentally define the story.
Change, edit, revise, but don’t lose track of the story you want to tell.