A few weeks ago my husband and I found out his job may be changing due to a company merger. As in- he might not have a job. I told myself many cliché phrases: When a door closes, another opens. An ending is just a new beginning. It will all work out. I’ve lived long enough and went through enough life experiences to know all of those phrases are true statements. But that doesn’t mean fear doesn’t present itself.
I went through weeks of repeating these phrases when I felt fear rise up within me. Through the first couple of weeks, I just swept the news under the rug. I’m busy and avoidance seemed just fine, too. Then the other day my husband shared more information with me that solidified the impending doom. Now it wasn’t just a rumor or assumption. There was physical evidence to back up the fear. I felt the fear bubble within my gut, slowly moving through my abdomen, through my chest then to my throat. I held it there- fighting back the worry and anxiety. Then I broke.
Now, it showed itself in a way that I describe as an adult equivalent to a toddler tantrum. I cried to my co-worker (Oh yeah, I was at work when I melted down. *rolling eyes here*). I was saying things like, “Life isn’t fair!”, “This isn’t what I signed up for!”, “I’m so tired of getting nowhere!”, “We work so hard for so little in return!”. Then I asked questions like, “Why can’t we catch a break?!”, “What do we have to do to get ahead?!”, “Why do others have it so easy?!”, “When will it end?!”. I emotionally ruptured. In the following days, I processed my outburst.
Here’s the deal- I flipped out over a simple thing. Change. That’s all it is. Change. Most of us hate it, because it causes uncertainty. A lot of us hate uncertainty because we don’t want to experience uncomfortable circumstances. But change is inevitable. We experience it every day. Alexi Panos once said, “You need to learn to fall in love with uncertainty.” Change affects all of us, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
Another contributor? Expectations. We create expectations in our mind and then fall apart again in our mind when things don’t turn out the way we expected. Or wanted. Or hoped for. When I attended birth classes while I was pregnant, the facilitator told us to have our birth plans prepared- and then be ready to throw them out the window. I created a birth plan: I wanted to not be induced. I wanted to have a natural delivery with no epidural. I wanted to hold my child immediately after birth. I wanted to breast feed right away. Well, the plan got thrown out the window. I was induced because I never dilated. I had an epidural because 20 hours later I ran a temperature and they needed to take my daughter via C-section. I didn’t get to hold her or breast feed immediately because of said C-section. You know what? It all worked out. It didn’t go according to plan (like most things in life), but the outcome was good. Actually, it was great!
Another thing I realized is fear is valid. It’s ok to have fear. It’s normal. But we can’t live there. We can’t allow it to take root and grow. Everything I proclaimed to my co-worker that day were not true statements or questions. They were the product of the fear I was feeling. Acknowledge the fear, feel the fear, then talk to it. I imagined something like this: “I see you fear. I feel you. I hear you loud and clear. But I refuse to let you run the show.” We may not have a choice in everything that happens, but we definitely have a choice in how we react to it.
There is an excellent book by Allison Carmen titled, “The Gift of Maybe”. It is a small, potent book with simple exercises on how to unravel the downward spiral of thoughts like I experienced that day. What I took from reading her book actually assisted me in pulling out of the spiral quicker than I would have years- or even months- ago. Maybe this career change is a blessing in disguise. Maybe my husband will make more money than he is now. Maybe he will have a job he loves. Maybe he will be home with his family more. Maybe there is nothing to be afraid of at all.
I’m not saying don’t have hopes, dreams, goals or plans. I’m saying have them- and get ready to throw them out the window. The world is changing on a daily basis. We (I) need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Fall in love with uncertainty. Hope for the best and understand when the change happens, it maybe even better than I imagined.