Changes are scary.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s self-doubt. Maybe it’s some kind of fear left over from the caveman days where change could very well equal death. Who knows? But change is scary, for all of us. People who say that change isn’t scary are also the people who say they never speed or pick their noses or forget to do something. In other words, if you say that change doesn’t scare you, you’re a liar, and I bet your pants are smoking.

Change can be exciting too, of course. You can be scared of something and still embrace it. The problem is that too many people fail to see the excitement and only see fear. So they never change.

Even if change is what is best for them.

We make up a lot of excuses as to why we don’t change. I’m already happy. I don’t think I’ll like it. I have responsibilities. I don’t want to let people down.

But what we’re really saying is that we’re afraid. I’m afraid that I won’t be any happier than I am right now. I’m afraid that I won’t like the change. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to take care of my responsibilities. I’m afraid to admit that that the responsibilities aren’t even actually mine. I’m afraid that I’ll let people down.

For some reason, though, once you actually admit that you’re afraid, it’s a lot easier to face that fear and make a change, even a big one.

Next month, I’m moving to DC. I live in Pennsylvania now, so the move puts me 4-5 hours from where I already am living. It’s not across the country, nor is it to a place where I don’t know anyone. But I’m still afraid. I’m from a small town and I’m afraid of hating living in a big city. I’m afraid that my new roommate and I won’t get along. I’m afraid that my cat will make herself sick over the change. I’m afraid that lots of things in my life won’t work out, and that it all boils down to making this change.

If I stay in Pennsylvania, I’m safe. And generally happy. And financially sound. And stuck.

That’s the problem - fear of change means that we get stuck. Did you ever walk through a muddy area with your boots and one gets stuck? As you try to walk away, the boot just sucks right off of your foot. Hell, sometimes when this happens to a person, they keep going. It isn’t worth digging out an old shoe.

Imagine you’re the shoe.

If you get stuck, the world will keep going without you. You won’t get to see what’s beyond the mud. You’ll just sink deeper and deeper.

Now, not that I think everyone has to be changing all the time. A few months ago, I wrote “We’re All Just Moving” about the fact that it’s okay to stand still sometimes, and I still believe that’s true. If you’re truly happy with your job, stay there. If you’re truly happy with your field, don’t switch industries. If you truly believe that doing whatever you’re doing now will lead to what you really want, power through the rough times.

Just don’t get stuck.

I think there’s a happy medium between being stuck and hurdling forward. That’s where I try to live my life. Does it always work? Certainly not. But I don’t want to avoid change for the sake of safety. There’s a whole world out there to see, and I don’t intend to get left behind in a half-dried puddle.

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