I hate change. Hate it.
So, while some people see change as an opportunity for growth and good fortune, I see it as potential disaster waiting to ambush me.
Which is why I’m such a creature of habit. I don’t like to venture out of my comfort zone, not even a little. I hesitate to change jobs, I hesitate to take on new responsibilities, I balk at starting new writing projects. And changes to my daily schedule. Those drive me insane.
I like predictability, routine. I might as well be one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs, I’m so conditioned to a certain way of functioning.[bctt tweet=”I might as well be one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs.”]
I know I’m not alone in resisting change. If you google “resistance to change,” you get a slew of articles about what causes it (e.g., fear, mistrust, loss of control) and how to handle it.
And there does come a time when you have to handle change. You can do it poorly–usually my first choice–or gracefully.
This past February, I finally decided to find out what would happen if I stopped telling change to fuck off.
In addition to spring break, my son has an entire week off in February. His school calls it “Ski Week.” Ski Week, in Southern California, where global warming was causing winter heat waves of 90 degrees or above.
I call it a working parent’s nightmare.
No other kids in town has off, and there are no camps. It’s just me and my son. All week. While I’m supposed to be working.
My schedule is flexible. I teach and I write. Except for my class and private client schedule, I can work anywhere, anytime.
And therein lies the problem: I can work anywhere, anytime. I squeeze in lesson plans, critiques, even my own writing in stores, doctors’ offices, in bed when I’m supposed to be sleeping.
My kid notices. He’s ten years old, an only child, and still loves hanging out with me and my husband. Recently he complained that he wasn’t getting enough family time. Playing basketball with his dad, he explained, was becoming all about drills instead of Horse or scrimmaging, and, as for me, well, “You, Mom, are always working.”
So I’ve known for a while that it was time to buck my inner pessimist and embrace change instead of fear it. This year’s Ski Week was a prime opportunity for me to try.
Did it give me the sweats, just thinking about pushing aside my work and hanging out with my kid instead of buying him a gazillion piece Lego set so I could fit in a few daylight hours of writing? Yes.
But I want to spend time with him. He’s funny and silly and smart and interesting.
So this past Ski Week, I put my laptop under the bed and got our asses out into the world. We took the dog on walks, went to the movies (“Sponge Bob,” which he adored and I pretended to), out to lunch, to LACMA.
At LACMA, I discovered that he loves modern art and sculpture. His face flushed and his eyes brightened as he circled an abstract sphere that resembled an egg and explained to me what it could be: a spaceship, an avocado, a world within a world. He raced ahead to find video installations, examined a photography exhibit that he declared “looks like someone’s family photo album” (which it was: the fabulous Larry Sultan’s series “Here and Home”).
We played Horse in the backyard and watched HDTV (“Property Brothers” is a particular favorite). We read books together.
And that itch to constantly work. It died down. I relaxed. I rediscovered the joy of spending carefree time with my son.
Will I now be able to handle all change with aplomb?
Not a chance in hell, says my inner pessimist.
But it’s a start.
Imagine a character who lives and dies by routine, the kind of person who flinches when someone moves a pencil on the desk.
Then, write for 20 minutes about a day where there is a glitch in that routine, a seemingly innocuous glitch that turns everything on its ass.
Start the story with “It was an ordinary afternoon.”
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You never cease to amaze me, Colette (it’s Fish, by the way). I can totally relate to this post. I am loath to change as well sometimes.
I’m the same way. I’m painfully working on breaking those habits. Did I mention it’s painful?
I’m so different – I love change. I am happy with new projects and new challenges. I think I do best when I’m about to start something new and have to clear up the detritus from past projects. If those need finishing off, I finish them quickly so I can get on the new!