Occasionally, the meditation app I have on my phone will give little suggestions or sayings that are meant as gentle reminders or inspirations. One day this summer, a notification from the app appeared that said “Remember, the only constant is change.”
I took a screenshot of the text and sent it to my friends with the comment, “Okay, not reassuring. But thanks, app on my phone.” I knew the suggestion was meant to be soothing, but I didn’t like it. I have fought change tooth and nail my whole life. The idea that change is the only constant in our lives wasn’t reassuring – it was cause for worry.
In any case, despite the ominous feelings I got from that message, I recognized there was a ring of truth to it. Change is constant. Last spring, I felt like I had finally settled in at Concordia. However, at the very moment I felt comfortable, it was time to graduate and move on. So, I did. Not without copious worry but, so far, it’s working out well.
My decision to enter graduate study was less of a decision and more of a desire, I suppose. I really love school, and I didn’t want to leave … and not just because I don’t like change. As I write this, I am preparing to enter my second year as an English master’s student at North Dakota State University. In addition to taking classes, I teach two sections of freshman writing each semester. If all goes to plan, I’ll graduate in the spring and transition into a Ph.D. program in the fall of 2020.
And so, here we go again – I feel like I just got settled at my new school, and now another season of change is looming over me. There are a million unknowns I’m facing. Will I pass my French proficiency exam? Can I pass my thesis defense? Will I be accepted into a Ph.D. program somewhere? Or, will I spend an additional year reapplying? Either way, if I’m accepted to a program somewhere or not, I’ll spend the year trying to figure out a new way of life and a new set of challenges.
The only constant is change.
Someone once told me that periods of change and periods of uncertainty are fertile times for creativity. They said to dwell in those periods of change. My loves-a-list-and-a-plan brain blanched at the idea, but I think there’s a good sentiment there. As plans change, as plans remain unknown or stagnant, something is nevertheless happening, even if it’s only within your own person. Perhaps, if change is constant, then growth is too.
I’ve talked to so many newly postgrad friends this year who say things like, “I don’t know what I am doing,” or “I’m not doing what I thought I would be,” or “My job is not satisfying.” Everyone is presented with unique challenges, especially right after graduation. Things do change; I didn’t need my app to tell me that. There are new schedules to adjust to, new people to meet, different pressures to acclimate to.
After graduation, you may not relate as specifically to your friends as you did when you were working on the same papers and projects throughout college but, if anything, we can relate to the uncertainty of life and support one another through that. So, even if not everyone is changing the same way, I don’t think we’re alone in change. Perhaps that’s another constant. Others are a great resource – they have knowledge I don’t have. We’re all growing – perhaps we’re growing in different directions and at different rates, but growth is nevertheless there.
The only constant is change.
When I walked into NDSU for the first time (about a year ago!), I was overwhelmed by the things I had yet to learn – about literature, about teaching, about grad school in general. So, I listened to those with experience, and I watched them work. I worked too, and slowly learned how to balance teaching and taking classes. I read new books and embarked on long research projects. I figured things out bit by bit.
This next year is bringing new questions and new changes, even as I stay in the same place. I’ve got new projects and new classes and new applications to traverse. Despite my anxiety, sometimes change can be exciting. If I can reframe the question of “what if?” into “what will I learn?” that can help. That helped me as I stepped into the classroom as a teacher for the first time – as I stood in front of twenty-two freshmen in a cold sweat, it was helpful to remind myself that I would learn some valuable lessons as I tried my best to manage a classroom. It’s helpful to remind myself that as I plunge into applications again – even if I “fail,” I’ll have learned something new.
At the end of the day, if change is constant, then so are its accompanying aspects – things like growth and friendship and knowledge and fear and excitement. So, my friends, whatever change is upon you – whether that’s the start of college, a new roommate, a graduation, a job switch, a difficult decision – I wish you peace of mind. Let’s think of the things we’ll learn and keep going!
Guest blog post by English writing major Ali Froslie ’18, Dilworth, Minn.