Simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating, it is also, apparently, unavoidable. Historically it has been unwelcome when things were good - when I was satisfied with my life - but, curiously, even when things were “bad,” change was not exactly welcomed with open arms. Accepting change has always been a struggle. It’s not due to fear of the unknown necessarily; indeed, often the changes coming down are very predictable. And it’s not because the resulting change might be for the worse. Even with a perspective today that is responsible for creating the very change I sometimes dread, moving away from familiarity still causes me some angst.
It is, in a word, uncomfortable. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I do believe that we are creatures of comfort. The evidence is abundant. Although other species manipulate their environments for a number of reasons, comfort and safety are high on the list and none have taken it to the level that our species has. I don’t want to get into the “goodness” or “badness” of how we have changed the world to benefit us, I am only pointing out our penchant for comfort. It is obvious.
When taking this desire for familiarity - this need for comfort - to the cerebral level, it often manifests as anomalies in my routine that induce stress. Even if that routine is not a regular routine, major shifts in direction can be cause for consternation. In the coming weeks I will be moving back into the world of academia. So how does that represent any real change after experiencing so much recent success as an undergraduate? It’s a fair question and to be perfectly honest my familiarity with this particular institution absolutely mitigates my trepidation. But this is grad school and in that respect it is totally new ground for me.
As the beginning of the semester approaches, some of those differences are becoming more apparent. It is also quite obvious that this will be a far greater academic challenge than my undergraduate degree was. Similarities aside, this is way different, unknown and… exciting. But it’s also a little intimidating. Ok, a lot intimidating. Fortunately, my outlook on life now embraces the positive aspects of change and although my life is really very good right now - will it feel the same in a year? How about five years? Although seeking comfort is a noble enough quest, it cannot become stagnation. I used to seek the end, now I welcome the journey.