Editorial: The policies of starting over pt. 2

(Photo from Unsplash)

Change is a largely evolving concept. Occasionally, we are swept up in this giant wave of newness and gives us a feeling of being dipped into ice water. Initially, when submerged in freezing water, the human body has what is known as a “cold shock response.” The lungs immediately begin uncontrollably gasping for air as you thrash about in the water and what happens next depends on everything you do in this exact moment. Your instinct is to panic. The things around you are suddenly much farther out of your control than they were moments before, and you are left to manage the only thing you can. Yourself.

In order to survive, you must override your instinct, that primal urge in your chest that is screaming to be anywhere other than in the middle of abrupt change. You want to gasp for air, to kick yourself away, to reach comfort again as quickly as possible, but the only way out is by doing the complete opposite.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing at all. To tilt your head back and to feel everything rush over you, whether it be grief, anger, fear or some odd combination of all three. Your heart is broken, and you are desperate to make the aching stop. Do you run from the pain, or do you face it? Someone betrayed your trust, and you want revenge. Do you get even, or do you grow? You have an opportunity to take a chance on yourself. Do you throw it away, or do you thrive?

I did not think that at age 23, I would be living with my parents and just beginning my career. It isn’t where I had initially pictured myself. Returning home felt like admitting defeat, like I was supposed to be embarrassed of this apparent failure. I could tell you all the reasons that brought me to where I am, but this is not about the past. This is about where we are and where we go from here. How we survive the abrupt change and freezing water.

Life is never so simple as to offer the instructions for rescue directly on the label. Hardly anything has such an obvious answer. “Sink or swim.”, they say. It sounds black and white, like you either you make it, or you don’t.  You imagine simplicity until you find yourself in the middle of that freezing water. When it’s not so easy as you thought, the result is that you are pushing down on your own back with too much force, and it’s been that way for far too long. Change often feels a lot like discomfort, the same way growing bones made you ache as a child.

When real growth happens, you begin seeing things for what they are. Maybe it’s identifying toxicity from family members, friends or relationships and learning how to move forward. Whatever the case, one must begin to take risks and accept failures for the valuable lessons they teach. The risk is to step out of your comfort zone and onto the ice. When the human body is suddenly submerged in freezing water, the initial reaction is to panic, but panicking is not the way to survive. To survive is learning to float and about learning to exist in this moment, in the middle of the storm and thrive.

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