When you think you are dying you might actually be in the middle of coming back to life. I love fall because it teaches us this.
The air turns crisp and the ground gets colorful and crunchy from the fallen leaves and limbs. The flourishing of spring and summer has reached its culmination and is now coming to an end. But the end doesn’t feel like grief; it feels like a celebration. It feels as if nature is showing us that all of this change and dying off is important in order to make way for further growth.
However, while I quickly welcome the changes the autumn brings, I’m not always so quick to embrace change in my own life.
After growing up in a household that was unstable and unkind, change can trigger feelings of loss, uncertainty, and fear. The discomfort that comes with change sometimes leads me to believe the change isn’t worth it. In those moments, in order to cope, I have often attached to whatever provides me with a sense of stability and worth. I’ve grasped for whatever is familiar. My anxiety about change tries to convince me it is better to stick with what I know than risk what I can’t guarantee. It will tell me to protect myself from the discomfort of uncertainty and loss and to stick with the comfort of the familiar.
But this fall season is telling me something better than my anxiety.
It is telling me that when I cope with the uncertainty of change by pretending I can just hold onto something forever, I am resisting a fundamental part of being alive. Life is about changing and growing and becoming, not staying the same. Life is in constant motion and that motion is not senseless: it is creating change that promotes further growth and expansion.
At some point, everything falls a part in order to make way for something new.
I recently went through this cycle of flourishing and letting go when I changed practices. I had been at my previous practice for five years and those feelings of comfort, stability, and competence were well established. I had once again reached the feeling of familiar, and I loved it. I knew the ins and outs of the job, my work – life routine had been established, and each week I got to sit and process life with people who had become part of that familiarity.
And yet, deep down, I knew I had reached the conclusion of that season, and it was time to begin a new one.
As I contemplated switching practices, anxiety – once again – began speaking up within in me. It reminded me of the potential failure involved in change. It reminded me the process of acclimating to something new is really uncomfortable and vulnerable, and it taunted me with what I was about to lose: my sense of stability and familiarity. It told me to settle for what I already had and not risk the unknown.
However, these days, when my anxiety speaks, another voice within me speaks even louder. A voice that believes in my ability to expand with life. This voice reminds me that although the fear of change is still present, discomfort makes space for what comes next. It tells me to welcome uncertainty, because uncertainty brings new things with it. It tells me that further growth is only possible when I bravely let go of the old and open up to something new. The season of my life spent at my old practice was one of flourishing, a time which I grew into myself and found my place in the world. Now that season needed to end, so a new one could begin.
I knew if I held onto the last beautiful thing, I would miss out on the next beautiful thing.
And so, this time, as the time for change is upon me, instead of clinging even tighter to the feeling of familiar, I am taking a cue from this season and celebrating the purposefulness of change. I am leaning into the uncertainty. I am claiming that my worth and sense of stability come from what is familiar within and not from the familiar around me. Now, this season of change feels a lot less scary. Indeed, it feels beautiful.
Like crunchy, colorful, solid ground beneath my feet.
If you allow yourself to embrace the changing seasons of life instead of clinging tightly to your flourishing from the previous season, you too can enjoy the growth, the expansion, the beauty, and the solid ground of yourself that change will bring.
Just as the world around us does each year.