When graduating high school, students are always told about the many changes they will experience in the upcoming years. Some students attend college; several join the military, while others enter the work force. Each path requires the student to make a change in their life; some are major transformations, while others are minor adjustments. Whatever the decision, one change leads to another, creating a cycle. One thing I wasn’t expecting in my own journey was the unpredictability of those changes. I thought once I decided to go to Simpson College, and got settled in, I would be done with extreme changes in my life—at least for the next four years—and would essentially pause the cycle of change.
Now before I go any further, let me explain that I am the type of person that likes a plan. I make several To-Do lists on a daily basis, I schedule my life almost down to the minute (I have an app on my phone that I can’t live without), and I hate surprises. I like to know what is coming my way, and if I don’t know I tend to stress, worry, and freak out about whatever it is I don’t know (often annoying those around me in the process). Basically, I HATE the unexpected and almost any type of change. So needless to say, for me, unexpected changes are the things of nightmares. Which made the beginning of this summer rather rough.
Two days before I was to move home and start my summer job (one that had been lined up for about one year) I got a phone call telling me I no longer had that job. I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. This single alteration changed everything. Literally all of my summer plans went up in smoke. Essentially, I didn’t know anything about what would happen this summer and I was terrified. I ended up sitting in the chapel office (by myself) and crying for about half an hour. Eventually I pulled myself together long enough to start the 10 minute walk back to my dorm. On the way there, two cardinals flew across my path and I smiled.
Side note: Cardinals have always made me feel better. My mom has always said that they are a sign from Heaven that everything will be ok. I find it so comforting that I even have a cardinal figurine I keep in my room for much needed pick-me-ups.
Along with my cardinal comfort, I have other strategies that I use to help me deal with any change I experience. I have memorized the serenity prayer to help me accept change. I go to Mass. With the help of my Bible study, I have even adopted a personal mantra: “Give it to God,” meaning I need to hand over whatever I am worried or stressed about and trust the Lord to help me through it. During the walk back to my dorm and the following weeks I pulled on all of these strategies to help me accept the change.
While I did all of the above, I was also applying for any job I could find and (since none of my job prospects panned out) trying to find volunteer opportunities for the remainder of the summer. I eventually came to be content with the reality that I would not be making money this summer and would instead be doing chores around the house and volunteering at the public library. Things began to smooth out. I was not as stressed and was beginning to focus on RLC and CSO events for this fall.
Then I found out that Simpson was undergoing a change in priests. This put a lot of my plans on hold and I, once again, began to stress. I called several people trying to figure out what was going on, what I could do, and what I should do while all of this was being straightened out. I made lists. I got organized. I then found out that Simpson is being assigned a temporary priest while the search for a new permanent priest is underway. Given time, this too has smoothed out.
Recently I have been offered a temporary job and I have continued to work on the other modifications to my summer plans. I guess what I am trying to say is that change is inevitable and you don’t always know what form it will take. Cliché, I know, but completely true. Whether foreseeable like graduating from high school, or unexpected like losing a job, change is an integral aspect of our lives. The cycle never pauses and certainly never ends. This means, as much as I hate to admit it, we need to learn how to handle change. Personally, this is something I am still working on. From finding comfort in a cardinal, to digging down deep and making a plan, to simply giving it to God, I am continually finding new ways to handle change. Ironically, I change how I deal with change. But that alone is good because by changing my methods I am accepting more change into my life and starting to move forward. Rather than seeing any slight modification to the plan as a gigantic mountain I have to climb (when in some cases I would rather blow it up), I am starting to see changes as opportunities for growth and positive outcomes. I am working on embracing the cycle of change because, unless I find the magic remote for the cycle of change and can finally hit pause, what else is there for me to do?
- Maureen Snook, Intern of Catholic Student Organization