Change. I’ve dealt with it all my life. Events fluttered around me as I grew up, changed schools, changed friends, and changed personalities. And yet, I have not accepted change. I still abhor it, because I hate adapting to new things. I hate small talk and being gentle around new people. I hate dipping my toe into frigid new waters. I hate even the idea of change. Just one small whiff of it and fear crawls up my spine.
Not every introvert hates change as much as I do, but many of us do. In general, introverts can struggle with adjusting to new things. When the world already overstimulates you, change piles on stress and even more stimulation. Many introverts relish routine and “sameness” because when you get used to things, they don’t bombard your senses as much.
But what about good change? The kind that makes you smile a dopey grin at 3 a.m. when you flirt with a new guy? That warmth that blooms in your chest as you laugh with a new friend? What about moving past a bad memory or moving out of a bad home?
Even though I know that ultimately it will be good for me, in the moment, I still hate it. Positive changes still make my heart beat rapidly and my breathing become ragged. That type of change, however, is one I must accept, for my own sake, no matter how much it scares me.
Here are four tips that helped me accept change. I hope they’ll help you too:
1. Take a deep breath.
As an introvert, it can be hard to stay grounded in the moment. My mind is often somewhere else, thinking or daydreaming about something. But the second things become different is the moment my mind begins to run rampant. I imagine what could go wrong and what I could lose. I imagine all the negative things that could happen. I miss all the positive aspects. If this happens to you, pause and take a deep breath. This will reboot your mind and help you refocus on the situation that made you retreat into your inner world. This is the first step to accepting change. By pausing and reflecting, you can process and digest it. One little bite at a time.
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2. Bury yourself in the positives.
Whether you rocked an interview and got a position in your dream career or you signed a mortgage on a house, opportunities that make positive change happen are victories. Focus on what you did right and what you are excited about. You’re crazy for the restaurant down the street from your house? Sweet, go get dinner there. You love the new office you earned by working hard? Awesome, decorate it. Bury yourself in the positives to avoid getting swept away from what you miss. Remember how I said I dislike even positive changes? Right now, I’m getting into a new relationship, and while sometimes I miss my routine and being single, I can’t help but be thrilled by this new possibility. I’m counting this as a victory, and every milestone the relationship passes will become another badge of honor. One that will help me forget all my lonely single days.
Facing our feelings is an important part of moving on. Nostalgia stings but it’s a sting you’ll be glad you felt. If you’re missing something, you don’t need to pretend it never happened. Instead love that it did and recognize that those same things you loved will soon happen here too. Maybe it’s making a scrapbook of you and your friends after moving a few states away to attend college. Maybe it’s not seeing one of your friends as much as before you started dating, but you make plans to see them soon and explore the new path you two are taking. Whatever you do, don’t bury the past. It’ll make the change more painful when you dig it up.
Change is like getting into a swimming pool. When you first enter, the water is cold and uncomfortable. But after swimming for a bit, it warms up and you begin to have fun. If you had only dipped your feet in, you wouldn’t have gotten into that fun, epic splash war. Likewise, if you’re too afraid to commit and explore, you might ruin your exciting change. For example, when I was in 8th grade, I couldn’t wait to go to high school. I could take electives and finally have more freedom. But I was also terrified to have new teachers and move into a bigger school. I was so afraid that very few of my freshman teachers got to know me, and I was washed out by the extroverts. I wish I wouldn’t have been so controlled by fear, and that I felt freer to explore my life as a student more. Maybe then I would have been more comfortable transitioning to a sophomore the following year.
Change is inevitable, and whether you fear it, shun it, or ignore it, someday you will have to accept it. These tips may make your life easier as long as you’re willing to give change a chance. You don’t have to be an extrovert to have a good time in uncharted territories.
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