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Just Dewey: Embrace Change
It is no secret that humans are resistant to change. We love the idea of longevity, control and a routine.
At one time or another in our lives, we all have probably been forced to change something we didn’t want to. And I’m sure that everyone has been told before, “Change is good.”
Geoffrey Chaucer, a poet and the author of the renowned “Canterbury Tales,” once said, “All good things must come to an end.”
Sure, there are things that we all wish would never change or end. But when something changes and is outside of your control, it is necessary to embrace that change.
A study by Scott Eidelman, Jennifer Pattershall and Christian Crandall in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people like when things are reliable and around for a long time more than something new. They used students to demonstrate this by changing their curriculum. The study concluded that students would rather maintain the status quo, even if it meant more work than change to a new version.
Psychologically we correlate consistency and longevity with goodness. However, change or new things in our lives are associated with the unknown. Therefore, when people are presented with change, they meet it with resistance because of the uncertainty surrounding it.
Through a series of experiments, Eidelman, Pattershall and Crandall found that people were more fond of something when they were told it was older. For example, when people were told acupuncture had existed for 2,000 years, their responses were much more favorable than those who were told it was around for just 250 years.
They found this behavior to be true when they asked people about the appearance of a tree as well. One group was told the tree was 4,500 years old and another was told it was just 500 years old. As you could expect, the group that thought the tree was older admired its appearance more.
While changes in our lives aren’t as simple as the age of a tree, they maintain a similar concept. It is hard to be willing to adjust to a new lifestyle, especially if you are comfortable with the one that you are currently living.
When approached with change, we ask “Why?” rather than readily accept the new idea. It’s completely normal not to embrace change. In fact, it’s hard to.
College brings a new version of a lot of things. It brings new friends, new ways to learn, new freedoms and new problems. Like other people, I used to think that this change was more of a burden than a blessing.
Now in my second year at Quinnipiac, I wish I would have embraced change sooner. Not that I have regret, but rather that I was more willing to change things about my life that I was still holding onto, and they may have been holding me back.
Look, we all have our 4,500-year-old tree that we admire and don’t want to get rid of. But unfortunately, some things are out of our control.
You see, the great thing about change is it brings new experiences, new opportunities, new mistakes and new ways to learn. Yes, I said mistakes because nobody walks through life doing everything right. But unless you take a chance, you can’t learn from those mistakes.
In high school, I had an English teacher, Mrs. Salafia, who showed me a video by a motivational speaker named Eric Thomas. Now, I don’t know how many people have heard of his speech about success, but it has stuck with me from the first time I heard it in my 10th-grade English class.
In the speech, Thomas said: “When you want to succeed, as bad as you want to breathe, then, you’ll be successful.”
That quote has been the lock screen on my phone for the past five years. It reminds me every day that if I want to chase my dreams, I not only have to work harder than anyone, but that I also have to be open to change, whether I like it or not.
New opportunities present themselves at various times throughout a person’s life and unfortunately things we don’t want to change do.
Harvard Business Review’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote an article about 10 things that cause people to be resistant to change. I want to highlight one of them: Everything Seems Different.
Kanter writes that we are “creatures of habit” and that when we change, we should try to keep as many things as possible similar to as they were before. I think that when we make changes in our lives, everything will seem different for a moment, but then that moment of haziness will subside.
As much as change is good, there are always things, whether they are friends, family or an activity that we can count on. I think that sometimes change helps us find those people in our lives, and helps us realize who is really there for us when times get tough.
Contrary to Chaucer’s belief, I think that not all good things come to end, but rather sometimes we need a reminder that they are still there.
And if a good thing does come to an end, don’t get discouraged and don’t think this change can only bring negativity.
In the words of Eric Thomas, “become a victor, not a victim.”
Whether we like it or not our lives are going to change, for better or for worse and it is usually outside of our control.
So, I’ll leave you with this: Don’t be afraid of the unknown side of change, embrace it, because for all we know, it could be better than what we had before.