“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”
Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
When it comes to change, I am an incurable pessimist.
At the age of seven or eight, my parents told me that I had the chance to redo my bedroom. I was going to have the opportunity to choose what color I wanted my walls to be, to pick out my own border, and to sleep in a double bed. My brother, as it turned out, had outgrown his crib and was poised to take over the daybed I’d been sleeping in since I was a toddler.
The prospect of such a redecoration was exciting to me, but at the same time made me oddly uncomfortable. I liked looking through the books of borders, and I made good choices regarding the decor (I still approve of the way it looks even at the age of 21). But the day my new ceiling fan was installed, I started to cry. I remember climbing down the stairs that night and rummaging through the garage to find the light that no longer hung above me while I slept, and feeling suspiciously like I’d just murdered my best friend.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my ceiling fan. In the summer, when it’s unbearably hot, I turn it on high and lay sprawled on my back until my evaporating sweat gives me delicious shivers. I just didn’t love it right away, because I felt too loyal to the light I saw when I woke up every morning for years. The day it was replaced, my world was robbed of consistency, and I was afraid.
Maybe it’s stupid. You know what, I admit it’s pretty stupid. After all, it was just a ceiling fan. Besides the room I slept in, my life remained exactly the same as it always had been. But that was the first moment I felt my sense of self being disrupted by a transition outside of my control.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that leaving that light behind enabled me to move forward and appreciate the benefits of having a ceiling fan. Sure, I missed the way things were. But now, more than fifteen years later, I don’t miss it at all. It seems silly that I was so upset over such a minor change, and I can’t imagine my life any other way anymore.
Life is full of changes. Some are small, like replacing the lighting in your bedroom, and others seem insurmountable, like moving halfway across the country for college. Personally, I don’t discriminate – I hate all change equally. But that doesn’t stop it from happening. It merely turns the situation into a fight against fate, a battle that I will always inevitably lose.
The thing is, I’m missing out on a lot by choosing to look at every change as an ending rather than a beginning. It ensures that I remain constantly in the past, nostalgic for things that may or may not be as wonderful as I remember them. It ensures that I never allow myself to give 100% to the present and the future. And most of all, it ensures that I will never really be happy.
I’m coming up on a pretty big change. Moving into my own apartment in a town a thousand miles away from home is a scary prospect, and I can’t help thinking that I will soon become an exact replica of my mother. Sure, it’s kind of the end of my “childhood” in that I will be responsible for all of my own cooking and cleaning for the first time ever, but it also allows me an enormous amount of freedom to grow into the person I truly want to be, separate from the pressures of my family and friends. It is the end of the girl who needs to be taken care of and the beginning of the strong independent woman that can take care of herself (but who also knows when to ask for help). Change is scary. But it has the potential to be something wonderful.
I refuse to remain a pessimist. I can no longer stand to live in my guilt-ridden past, and I shouldn’t have to. Some things are about to end. Some things have already ended. But with every ending comes a chance to start over again, to let myself seize the moment and adapt to a situation that may very well be better than any of the ones I’ve experienced before.