For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
Let me be really clear about something: Change sucks. I mean, really, really sucks. Not just the normal “This is uncomfortable” or “I feel strange” but the kind of sucks that makes you want to relocate, buzz your head, and change your name to something like Guadalupe. I hate change, and for most of my life, I have found myself avoiding habit-inducing behavior in the effort to just avoid the process of change completely.
A lot has changed in my life in the last year. I have a new career, a new boyfriend, new friends (with the same old ones. I’m not heartless.), and a new outlook on life. It’s sort of amazing, actually, when you take into account the amount of change that has occurred, that my current driver’s license isn’t from Montana and doesn’t read Guadalupe Jones.
The process of change has taught me a lot about others and relationship building. But mostly, it’s taught me a lot about myself.
I am stubborn to a fault. When my mind is set on something, I’m all in. I will take a single thought and set up a sleeping bag and build a campfire and pull out the stuff for s’mores because I’M GONNA BE HERE FOR AWHILE, Y’ALL. If you have managed to get me to leave that thought process, it means that you have presented me with something more amazing than s’mores. So, basically, 100 million dollars.
Because here’s the thing: You never really know how much you suck at navigating change until you are in it. It’s sort of like being like, “I’m an excellent swimmer” and then you float 3 miles down the river on accident because you fell asleep sunbathing on a raft and your boat flips and you lose your oar and all of a sudden you realize that you’re not actually Michael Phelps and you haven’t won a gold medal for swimming. Which, by the way, has happened to me. Of course.
So, in this process of change, that I’m technically still going through, I’ve been writing things down. Like just grabbing napkins and McDonald’s receipts (let’s be real) and coasters from restaurants and writing as things come to me. Here are the two biggest things that I’ve learned.
1) Don’t say sorry for expressing what you need
Repeat after me: What I need matters.
Why do we struggle with this concept so much? Why do we have such a hard time putting ourselves first?
I used to think that the secret to being a perfect friend, daughter, employee, girlfriend, or Starbucks customer was to just go with the flow. Don’t interrupt when someone is giving me the wrong information. Don’t correct when someone has presented me with the wrong order. Don’t defend when someone has misunderstood me.
I would apologize when my coffee was made wrong. I would say sorry when I had to send back my food because it wasn’t what I ordered. I was an “I’m sorry” machine as if my very existence was bothering everyone around me. Essentially, I was saying, “I’m so sorry, but you didn’t give me what I needed, and golly, this is so inconvenient, but could I have what I need?” What the frick?
Let me clear: Passive self-care is the biggest pile of BS that I’ve ever bought into.
Our bodies and minds are programmed to tell us what we need when we need it. If we’re starving and somebody offers us food, we wouldn’t be like, “Oh, that’s okay. No, really. I’m fine. Like totally.” NO. We would take that food, devour it, and ask for more. (Well, at least I would ask for more.)
So why, when we are presented with real life situations where we are STARVING for the things that we need, do we write it off as not a big deal? Why, when we have an opportunity to clarify what we meant and how we meant it, do we act like it’s a huge inconvenience.
Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need when you need it. Saying “That doesn’t work for me” isn’t rude. Unless someone is not breathing and you’re like, “Actually, I just reapplied my lipstick, so mouth-to-mouth isn’t really gonna work for me right now.”
I can’t tell you how many meetings I sat in where I simply needed someone to clarify for me what was expected and I needed to clarify for them what I needed to succeed.
While your life changes and shifts and moves around and you feel uncomfortable and weird and sweaty (literally me, right now, as I am surrounded by REALLY COOL PEOPLE as I type this), you need to know not only what you need, but you need to let others know what you need. You are doing them a favor, trust me.
And that takes me to the second thing:
2) Do say sorry for being a butthead
There’s a really big difference between communicating your needs and communicating that you’re sort of a douchebag. One says, “I want you to know me,” and the other says, “I want you to cater to me.”
In the process of letting the people in your life know what you need, there will be moments when you are in what I call Mirror-Selfie Mode. There are a hundred people in the bathroom, waiting to wash their hands and waiting to get their stuff done, and all you can see is you.
Being aware of the needs of the people around you is just as important as being aware of your own needs.
There’s a balance, you see, in the expression of a need and the demand. Because here’s the simple truth: Our needs are important, but they’re not always the most important. Being patient with the process and understanding that change is SUPPOSED TO BE awkward and weird will take you a long way.
And when you find yourself so deep in self-care that you realize that you have ignored the basic needs of others for awhile, it’s time to say sorry.
There is no shame in apologizing, friends. In fact, you can expect to apologize a lot in the process of change. Just make sure that you are apologizing for being a butthead and not for just being human.
Be patient with yourself. Know that you’re going to say 1 million stupid things and need to make 1 million changes in the way that you do things. Know that it’s going to be weird for awhile and that you may need to figure out a new routine. Know that, in the process of change, relationships may start looking different, tastes might develop or fade, and you might need a little bit extra sleep.
Sometimes everything sort of has to end for a change to really take place. Remember that.
All of this is okay.
I will be okay.
You will be okay.
We will be okay.
Sorry that this was so long…