I’ve been witnessing and experiencing a lot of changes recently and it got me thinking about the way in which change affects us all. For many people, change is uncomfortable and it’s going to be met with a lot of resistance. For others, change is exciting and motivating because it means new ideas and new experiences. But one thing’s for sure, love it or hate it, change is one of the few things in life that is guaranteed.
A few weeks ago I moved to Phuket and so once again my surroundings have changed. I have a new home, new colleagues, new daily routines, new friends and a new culture to learn about. It’s an entirely different way of life. And as well as my own changing circumstances, I’ve been able to witness so many different people come to this place to try and change something in their life.
One of the greatest things about going away is that it forces you to change. Being in a totally different environment means you get to switch things up and no one is there to see the fall out if anything goes wrong or it’s not what you expect. You can be whoever you want to be. And there’s complete freedom in that.
Yet in our everyday lives back home, change can feel very difficult. Once you’re used to a certain way of doing things, you have your routines and you have your habits, it’s much easier to continue along with these familiar patterns than attempt something new and different. And not only that, often the people in our lives don’t want us to change either. People don’t want to give you the space and allow you the freedom to be a different person tomorrow than you were today.
Because if you show them that it’s possible to change every minute of every day, then it holds up a pretty powerful mirror to them that they too can do the same and if they’re not, that can be painful.
People fear getting left behind.
People fear the unknown.
They don’t want to change in case the change they make isn’t as good as what they have now. So they don’t want you to change either.
They might even try to make it difficult for you to change. And they’re not necessarily going to believe you when you say that you have.
Returning home after living abroad can be especially hard. You’ll have changed in so many ways and yet the people who are part of your life back home haven’t witnessed that change. And to make it harder, you haven’t necessarily changed in ways that can be seen or in ways that are easy to express. You may look the same as you always did and people will likely assume that you’re the same person you were before you left. Even when they can accept that you’ve changed, they won’t necessarily understand how and you might not understand it yourself or know how to express it to them.
So what can you do to make the transition easier?
If there are people that you are close to and that you want to remain really close to, then try and share parts of your experience with them along the way. It’s great to try to communicate the ways in which things are changing for you as they are happening so that they have a better idea of what to expect when you return home. And if that’s not possible, at least try to keep a track of your experiences for yourself so that you might be capable of talking about them when you get back.
The other really important thing to remember is to drop all of your assumptions. Do not assume that those you left behind have remained the same. Just because the people and the places feel the same, look the same and the conversations are similar, these people are growing and changing too and every minute they are a new version of the person they were a minute ago.
Take them for who they are in the present moment.
Not who they were in the past. Or who you hope they will become in the future.
Assumptions are never a good idea. Assuming that you know everything about a place or a person leads to boredom and frustration. Not to mention feeling like you’ve gone so far forwards whilst everything else has remained stagnant. The truth is, as much as it can feel like it, absolutely nothing stays stagnant. Every moment cells are recreated and things are literally new.
The trick is to always try and stay engaged in the present moment. Be curious about the ways in which the world around you is constantly changing and let people and places, even familiar ones, surprise you.