Isn’t it strange that recognizing the need for a change comes fairly easily, but actually putting that plan into action tends to be much more challenging? Constantly we express the need to lose weight, quit our job, ask for that raise, go back to school, tell off that “friend” that constantly hurts our feelings. But realistically, how long does it take us to actually turn those thoughts into reality? What influences us to finally act on our desires?
Like most big cities, the DC metropolitan area is under a constant face lift. Drab, worn down neighborhoods are being transformed into modern, vibrant infrastructures. I think our generation tends to enjoy living in an area with constantly upgraded surroundings and resources. Even the new McDonald’s buildings look like they are right out of a futuristic Jetson’s cartoon.
There is one neighborhood in a Virginia suburb right before you cross the bridge into DC that has been a little late to the renovation party. Everyday on my way to work I’d take in my surroundings, while silently lecturing the county on how outdated it looked for such a populated area. Sure enough, little by little, the new started to take over the old. One of the last buildings to go was a standalone McDonald’s that was the focal point of the entire neighborhood. I was eager to see how much better the area would look once the building was replaced by something new, modern (and hopefully more appetizing than a McDonald’s).
Then one day I got my wish. As I was walking to work I couldn’t help but be alarmed by the huge bulldozer dismantling the building in seemingly no time at all. Passers by continued with their morning commute, failing to acknowledge the shattering glass and falling debris resulting from each loud bulldozer blow.
Strangely enough, I felt sad. Even though it was a change that certainly needed to happen, it was a bit depressing and slightly traumatic to watch. It was so violent, and happened so abruptly. Relating this back to personal development, destruction of something in the past is often necessary to make way for a more promising future. However, I think change usually means leaving our comfort zones, and sometimes we get too content and fearful to make a move.
I am brought back to one of my favorite Dane Cook skits on bad relationships:
When you’re in a relationship you know you shouldn’t be in, you can never just call it quits like an adult and walk away early. “Instead you’re like let me just stick around for 5-6 years and end this thing violently.” Your friends all tell you that you should leave him. “I can’t just go Karen, it’s not that simple. HE’S GOT MY CD’S!”
We’ve all been there, and can look back and say, “Why did I put up with that for so long?!” Think back on the moments in your life when you knew something needed to change and then when you actually followed through (if ever). Personally, I’ve stayed in relationships, jobs, friendships, hair colors, those weird tattoo chokers, and god knows what else, far longer than I should have. Despite some life lessons, it amounts up to a serious waste of time (and drama, heartbreak, embarrassing pictures, etc.). The truth is, being unhappy and comfortable is sometimes a more preferable option than risking the unknown. Your twenties are the time where you should be taking these risks. We’re relatively untied down, and our actions and decisions now can seriously mold the path for the rest of our lives. Don’t just take a backseat and let life decide your fate for you. I think we all have an innate awareness of our needs, the challenge is being brave enough to act on them.
After self-reflection in this matter I can honestly say that most of the noteworthy moments of my life have stemmed from stepping out of my comfort bubble. Going to an out of state college, finding random roommates, making new friends, changing jobs (for better and worse), stating my opinion when I knew it would not be well-received. The moments where I’ve conformed to what was expected or “cool” at the time are much less resonant in retrospect. Those are the times where I feel like my time could have been spent more wisely- by being true to myself.
I encourage you all to pursue your dreams and not just to leave them to another empty New Year’s resolution – no matter your age or situation. Have the uncomfortable conversations. Stick up for yourself. In the long run people will respect and look up to you for it. It is never too late to make a change. As you persevere you will continue to evolve into the person you’re supposed to become- and hopefully that’s a happy one!