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04/10/2011 / melgardener

The nature of change

A photo from too long ago...many of the people in this image are still in my life today.

I met my husband when I was 17 – that’s 24 years ago for those who are counting. We’ve been married 11 years this month and together for 19. I also have a small core group of close friends, many of whom have been in my life for upwards of 20 years. Given that your 20s and 30s are generally accepted as years of massive life change, is it unreasonable to expect that the people I knew 20 years ago aren’t the same people they are today?

Change is inevitable – there’s a famous quote that the only constant is change – and I know that I’m certainly not the same person I was 20 years ago. My priorities have changed, my life experience has moulded my expectations, my work experience has clarified my goals, my children have changed my focus, and my long- and short-term relationships have added to the melting pot that has become ‘me’.

As I have aged I’ve become more interested in social issues, and my focus has become less on what I get and more about what I can give back to this society which has provided me with so much. I am less focussed on my career path and pay more attention to putting time into activities I find fulfilling. On a personal level, I am actively investing in my close relationships because I can see that their value is immense – personal interaction and communication feed my psyche.

Physically, I don’t bounce back the way I used to after a big/late night (which, to be honest, happen much less frequently these days). I am not as flexible as I used to be, nor as co-ordinated. The invincibility shield that so adequately covered any misdemeanour in my 20s and 30s has long disappeared and every day it seems I am more in tune with my inevitable demise.

My friends and my husband have not changed in the same way I have changed and I would not expect that they would do so. While we share some life experiences, we are all individuals with our own path to tread, and our changes will be more marked or more subtle respectively.

I’ve heard it said that change, in itself, cannot be labelled good or bad. It’s how we, as individuals, manage change that can have positive or negative consequences. I certainly won’t claim to have the magic elixir with which to manage all change but I do know that age and time have taught me that mistakes can be made, lessons can be learnt and that life goes on. In some ways I cringe at the change I see in my life over the past 20 years but in other ways I celebrate the person I have become.

I know I am very different today to the 21 year old who stood on the cusp of adulthood, having just finished Uni and about to embark on her first ‘proper’ job. I know there are things I regret about the last 20 years and certainly parts of it I’d like to change. But I am very settled with the person I am today so it’s hard to hold too many grudges against the life experience which has put me here.

How do you handle change? Do you think you have changed a lot or a little? Have your friends and family changed?

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