The only constant is change!
“I thrive on challenge and change...”, I've written this on every single job application I have ever done (and there have been quite a few!) because if I know nothing else... I know that the only constant is change and sometimes these changes can prove to be challenging.
Thinking back over my working life, I am very aware that I have been through many changes. In case you haven't worked this out yet, I've had quite a number of jobs and have always found myself seeking change as a way of improving my career and employment status. Being stuck in a job has never appealed to me, hence the reason why I tended to change my job role every two years or so. I guess in one respect I was lucky that I worked for the majority of my working life within the Local Authority which had room for change if I wanted it (and I did!).
Fortunately, many of the changes were good ones but there were some that were absolute stinkers! Therein lies the challenge and, to some degree, the gamble of whether to make the change or not. I never knew what actually lay around the next corner – who does! - but I always felt it was worth the gamble of finding out. I always knew I had a choice whether to pursue that change or not. As for the stinkers... well, my theory was that if I couldn't adapt to the change then it was time to move on – again. I'd lost nothing, I was still in a job, but I had a choice to look elsewhere and to make the best of my current situation whilst doing so.
And then that all changed. I was made redundant and found myself in a situation that was completely alien to me. I had to make a change, it felt as though change was forced on to me and I didn't like that one bit! I felt like I had known nothing about the challenges of change up until that point. I felt lost and quite useless and it took me some time to contemplate the possibilities of change that might be in front of me... for the first time in my life I feared change. But change had to come, I couldn't stay in limbo forever.
I went to University and studied for my Counselling Degree (yes, I was quite a mature student!) and found this included many changes. Not only was I out of employment but I was having to study, hand in assignments, look after family and try to keep sane in a world that I had had nothing to do with since leaving school many, many years before. But I made it, by the skin of my teeth, and graduated with a BA(Hons) Degree. I thought that was it... I'd made it! I was doing work I loved and had options within the counselling world.
And then that all changed. Six years into my counselling career and I've just recently had to give it up (for a while, hopefully!) to look after my young grandchildren. Another change I felt I had little control over and one that I felt I had no choice in. That last phrase...”I felt I had no choice...” haunted me for many months following my decision (if I can call it that) to look after the little ones. I'll let you into some of my thoughts around my situation...
- “I didn't ask for this”
- “What was the point of all my hard work when I'm now caring for a one year old and a two year old”
- “I'm so angry at the whole situation”
- “I had no choice”
- “How will we make ends meet, financially?”
- “There is no help out there”
- “Why did this happen to me?”
- “I should be enjoying my time as a grandparent, not being a 'mother' again to these young children”
- “I'm too old!”
These, and many more thoughts were flying through my head. But, again I come back to the thought that I felt I had no choice. My past experiences of change taught me that change was better when I felt I had some say in it, when I'd been behind the change or to some degree part of the change process. Feeling forced into the change was something I really struggled with. Then, it was pointed out to me that I did have a choice. My choice was to say 'yes' to looking after the little ones or to say 'no'. And then words that I had spoken many times to people I had worked with therapeutically came back to me, “recognise that there is always a choice and accept that change for the better is possible”.
So I see that I always had choice, although the alternative to my looking after the little ones seemed to narrow that choice for me, that choice was always there and choosing brings change. Change can be good or it can be an absolute stinker but it is always fluid and that's ok! Now, I take each day as it comes – the good and the bad because on the good days all is well; and on the bad days I can reflect on the good days and know that all is not lost. Each day brings new opportunities for change, it's up to me whether I choose to make them or not. When one of the little ones (or sometimes both together) give me a hug... I know the choice I made was a good one. When my body is weary and my head aches, I wonder at the choice I made! But I chose, and this is where I stand and I'll try to continue to move forward – even if it's only a baby step at a time!
Thinking back, at the start of this period of change I felt I was swept up in a whirlwind – typhoon even! - and often didn't know which way was up. The only thing I could do was move with it; fighting against it was too exhausting and trying to force my own needs into this change was useless. Something had to give and without realising I was making a choice the change had to come from me. I gave up my career, the thing that I have always felt defines me, to look after two young children – and put in this situation again, I'd do exactly the same. That in itself tells me I'm doing the right thing for me and my family. There was something (three things actually for my older grandson is also involved in this situation – although he now lives with his biological father he was a huge part of my decision making) that far outweighed my needs, and they are worth every sacrifice made. I had a real reason to choose this path and although I still get days where I feel regret and hanker after the life I once had the whirlwind that once was is starting to calm and I'm beginning to see the rainbow breaking through. Giving my grandchildren my love, time and attention and watching them grow and develop into wonderful young people is my reward. I can give them the stability they need at this crucial time in their lives and this is now my focus. And during this period of my life I am determined not to lose my sense of self - I'm important too!
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