We’ve all been there. We are walking down the street, coffee in hand, when we bump into someone we used to know. Maybe it’s a former coworker or someone you haven’t seen since high school graduation. You try to hide behind your sunglasses and headphones, but you’ve been spotted. They stop you and you are coerced into having a brief conversation with them. You two catch up and this look comes over their face as you speak. You can tell that their questions only come from burning curiosity and that they don’t actually care. The ramble finally ends and you know what’s coming next. They reach out, squeeze your arm, and exclaim, “wow you’ve changed SO much!”
When the awkward moment ends and your social anxiety recedes, you mull over the conversation. You were basically just forced to admit every recent detail in your life and then they hit you with the “you’ve changed” comment. What does that even mean? It is a bad thing or a good thing? Your thoughts begin to race and you feel exposed. You carry on with your day, but that coffee doesn’t taste as good anymore because you can’t stop thinking about how that person from your past noticed you changed.
For some reason, when we are told we have changed, it doesn’t sit well. It’s the idea of not being the same person that someone remembers us being. We question if it is a good thing or a bad thing. Were we a better version of ourselves before? Did we just get a lot uglier?
No matter what the reasoning, it doesn’t feel good when someone has told us that we have changed. Change is perceived as a negative aspect of life and it is rarely welcomed. Why is it so difficult to look at change within ourselves as a good thing?
Think about everything you have ever been through. Every person that has ever walked in and out of your life. Every tough situation you have found yourself in. How you felt at your happiest moments in life. How you thought getting through the worst moments would be impossible.
What did those moments do to you? Maybe the people who walked out of your life made you resolve to focus on the individuals that truly matter. Maybe the happy moments made you decide you were going to say “yes” to invitations more often.
Every challenge, every happy moment, everyone in your life, has an impact on who you are as a person. Everything happens for a reason and you change as a result of those reasons. Recognizing the changes within yourself, whether big or small, gradual or quick, is a beneficial. If you are able to look back at what you have gone through and see how you have changed, you are taking steps in the right direction to accepting those changes.
When I look back, I sometimes have a hard time recognizing who I was compared to how I am now. Whether it was the loss of a person or finding the best group of friends or finally deciding on a career path, I have changed a lot. I have gotten the “you have changed” comment many times, but I’ve learned to be happy about that comment. Of course I’ve changed. I’m a better version of myself and I’ve learned, grown, and evolved from my experiences. I’m thankful when someone acknowledges that I have changed, because those changes represent what I have been through.
You are constantly changing. Life is constantly working with you and against you. You are only becoming who you are meant to be. You change as a result of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the lucky and the misfortunate. Change is good. No matter what caused those changes, good or bad, change is good.
So the next time you run into someone on the street, tell them all about your recent life. Embrace the inevitable, “you’ve changed” comment, and follow-up with a thank you. Define your strength of character in the changes you see within yourself. Walk away from the conversation with a smile, because you are only becoming who you are supposed to be.
How have you changed in the past few years? Let’s hear about it in the comments!