“Don’t ever change.”
Those were the words written from one seventh-grader to another.
As I looked at what my friend had written for me in my yearbook, my heart was filled with a strange sense of warmth.
The words, “Don’t ever change,” was short and sweet, but confusing all at the same time.
Am I really that perfect to not have to change?
I must be. Otherwise why would she have written that?
“Why don’t you get a job? Why don’t you find a new hobby?”
I was confused. For years, I’d believed that I didn’t have to change, that there was no reason to.
My ex, when we were dating, had told me the exact same words my friend did — “Don’t ever change.”
So why was he yelling at me years after to change who I was? Wasn’t I perfect the way I was?
It wasn’t until we broke up when I realized how absurd those words were: “Don’t ever change.”
When people tell you not to change, it’s because they like a certain trait or quality that you have and wish for you to keep it. They fear that if you change, the trait they liked — your optimism, your kindness, your honesty, whatever — will disappear and change the person you once were.
And in many ways, it can be a good thing. After all, it’s a compliment is it not?
But the only problem with not changing is that you’re living their version of your life, not your own.
As nice as it sounds to the ears, in reality, all it does is discourage you from growing. It stifles your potential.
And I hate that.
After the breakup, I’d finally learned to change for the very first time. I started to lift weights, work in a startup and travel to Southeast Asia alone — all of these experiences were different from anything I had ever done before and while it was in some ways terrifying, I felt more empowered by the opportunity to learn and take on new obstacles by myself, for myself.
Change isn’t bad. We only assume it’s bad because nobody else wants to take the risk to change, but it’s really that change that determines the number of positive experiences that occur in our lives.
Rather than encouraging others not to change, we should encourage them to change because the truth is that change does more good for us than bad.
Because of change, I became smarter, stronger, more resilient than I thought I could ever be. It’s helped me realize who I want be and in my case, it’s been mainly positive.
I hope change will be as great for you as it has been for me, and I can’t wait to see who you’ll become.