Change has always been hard for me. I remember when my mom had the kitchen redone when I was in middle school and we had to use a neighbor’s kitchen to make meals. One night, after we went out to eat because our kitchen was a demolition zone, I just cried. I wanted to go back to having a kitchen that wasn’t torn up. I missed the illusion of stability that was the house not changing. I hadn’t been in public school long and middle school was a stressful experience. There were so many unwritten rules to interacting with my peers and I was already experiencing what I now know were clinically significant levels of anxiety. I’m still not a huge fan of change. There are quite a few upcoming changes.
The first is moving out. I’ve lived independently before, but it wasn’t always a positive experience. I’ve found living at home to be a safer and more gratifying experience than my previous forays into attempted independence. Having conversations with my parents on the topic of living independently has been frustrating at best and toxic at worst. Throughout all of our conversations, no matter what fears I expressed, my dad always repeated how much I’d like to live on my own. He said it would motivate me to finish school faster and be more motivated in general. I’ve been in school full-time for the past two years, working full-time the entire time. I fail to see how introducing a stressor such as moving out would give me MORE energy to devote to a school than I already was. There were so many moments when I wanted my parents to be experiencing the levels of terror, anxiety, and fear I was. I think if they’d been inside my body, experiencing the intensity of those emotions, it might’ve helped the conversation be more productive. I struggled to have these conversations with my dad the most. He’s always emphasized how independence was important. I can remember driving home one day when I was a child, and he said “ When you turn 18, you’re going to be in school, working, or moving out”. This has stayed with me and it’s been a big theme in my life. I know that moving away from home was good for my dad and he grew a lot because of that change. I’m glad he had such a positive experience. What he failed and continues to fail to realize is that not everyone has the same experiences. Insisting someone will have a different experience than what they are experiencing invalidates their experience and makes connecting much harder. I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea of living by myself, but I still worry about coming home to an empty apartment.
Another area of my life where I feel the pressures of change is professionalism. I’m moving towards a career in data analytics, slowly but surely. Learning a new set of skills is difficult. I worry that I won’t be smart enough to get my master’s degree as I’ve planned. I worry that I’m not going to be smart enough to contribute meaningfully if I get a job in my desired area of employment. I’ve felt pressure to perform professionally for a long time. My dad has been an engineer at the same firm for over twenty years. He has two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees. My mom has been a manager at almost every job she’s ever had. Even when she’s not been in management, she’s beloved by coworkers and is fast at making friends. I always wanted to be adored like my mom and a hard worker like my dad. I know I have a good work ethic but my social graces will never be enough to be popular, which I’ve made peace with. I want to make enough money that I can live in the area where I grew up or at least close to that area. I want to not be miserable at my job and not be drained socially so I can still socialize on the weekends. I don’t have to be passionately in love with my job every moment of every day. I just want to be satisfied with my job and able to live a peaceful and joyful life. So much of my anxiety revolves around a future where I’m not in familiar surroundings. I’m hoping as I take concrete steps to build the life I want, I’ll worry less.
The older I’ve gotten, the more comfortable I’ve gotten with change. I look forward to when I’m not scared of change at all.
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