By: Alyssa Fechner, Regular Contributor
“It’s only natural to feel groundless when faced with sudden change . . . . The fact that we feel groundless at times is inevitable; it is based in the truth of impermanence. . . . impermanence and groundlessness [need not be] problems, but opportunities to practice maintaining an open heart.” – Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
I was going to begin this post by telling you that a couple months ago, I graduated college. I was going to explain that in a time where everyone is sending warm congratulations and enthusiastically asking what my plans are and what I am doing with my life, all I really felt was completely lost. My ground had dropped away from beneath me. After spending 19 consecutive years in school—doing homework, absorbing lessons, discussing big ideas—I found and I am finding that I don’t know what to do with my days and with my brain without the structure of school that I have been so used to.
I have been struggling, grappling with myself—how can I make myself more comfortable with the change? How can I settle into something new? How can I leave behind one part of my life, in favor of the next stage? I came across the above quote in a book I’ve been reading in an attempt to recalibrate my approach to life. And then I realized that maybe I don’t need to recalibrate my approach to life, maybe I don’t need to create a new schedule for myself, or replace my old routine with a new one, or even figure anything definitive out about my plans. Maybe what needs adjusting is my expectation.
In letting go of the expectation that I should have a plan, in letting go of the expectation that I should be feeling any certain way, and in letting go of the expectation that I should be in a different place than I am, I am freed. When I adjust my mindset, the discomfort of a new situation is actually completely liberating. When I recognize that every stage of life—even the ones that last 19 years—are fleeting and impermanent and ultimately out of my own control, I feel a sense of peace and calm in which I can once again find my footing.
So now, I am practicing something new. Now, I am practicing grounding myself in the acceptance of change and in fully embracing the most present moment. Now, instead of grounding myself in routine, I will practice being OK with the inevitable impermanence.
I was going to begin this post by telling you that I was having a really difficult time adjusting to the changes going on around me. I was going to say that change is hard. But what I think I really mean is that rigidity in the midst of change is hard, and that being more open to change myself is the self-adjustment that I need. Change is not the problem, but the answer.
Challenge yourself to be open to change!
- Uncertainty is a chance to grow, explore, to shed something old to make way for something new (and maybe incredibly awesome!) Give yourself daily small doses of change: hit a new place for lunch, pick up a book that you ordinarily would never read, buy those funky shoes that you think are not your style. See what happens!
Alyssa grew up on a diet of grilled cheese, books, and ice cream with books predominating. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in English and lives in her favorite place with her favorite fiancé (she only has one). Post-graduation, her plans are to start a new women’s magazine that leaves women feeling GREAT about who they are, and to open a publishing house for untapped talent.