“She’s worried that you’ve changed,” my friend said to me a while back, referencing another friend.
“But I haven’t,” I said, defensively.
“You haven’t been coming out with us as much.”
“I know it looks bad but, I just don’t enjoy going out to those things anymore.”
We carried on the conversation, and by the end of it, I realised something. I had. I had changed. I didn’t enjoy doing the things we used to do when we were in our early-twenties in London. I didn’t enjoy going to the same places and talking about the same things and ending up at the same house parties with the same judgmental people who I had nothing in common with. It had suited me for a while, a long time ago, but it wasn’t suiting me anymore. When you grow up, you start to realise what makes you feel good, and what doesn’t – and they didn’t make me feel very good.
We all have lots of different groups of friends and I have absolutely fantastic friends – a support network that makes me swing from trees and bungee-jump through life because they make feel safe. But it was this particular group…and I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. They weren’t forever friends, and I wanted to “unsubscribe”.
I remember at the time feeling so incredibly control of my life, and all the people close to me could understand the different motions I’d gone through to get there. But not this group of friends – or should I say this group of not-really-friends – they were scolding me for “changing”; for not being “as care-free as I used to be”; for “always going to work stuff” and for “not being the person they remember”. Basically, they were scolding me for doing the things that made me happy. But I was still me. I just had more stuff to worry about. I had to say “no” to things that I used to always feel pressured to say “yes” too. I started saying “no” for my own sanity.
They were like those shit friends in Devil Wears Prada, who make fun of her new job, want her freebies and make her feel constantly guilty for everything.
Yes, I had changed, but I was happy. And the people who really cared? They were happy for me too.
Now it’s not exactly news that I really love Zoe, as a person, a friend, a business woman and a fellow twenty-something creating her own things online. I don’t watch tons of YouTube but the thing I love about her vlogs in particular is that in between the make-up or recipes or life updates or slogan t-shirts or baking recipes (all of which I love watching to chill the EFF out on the sofa after a cray day) are the chatty nuggets of gold. At the end of one of her recent vlogs, she’s on the sofa having a little chat and she spoke about the fear, and often stigma, of “changing”:
“You’ve changed” always seems to have a negative connotation, but I like to think I have changed since I’ve started YouTube almost seven years ago. I think people are always changing and adapting and growing to everything around them. That’s part of growing up…is change….I love seeing how much I’ve changed. I think it’s a great thing.”
The reason I wanted to write this particular quote from Zoe on the blog is because it’s been one of the few things I’ve seen/heard recently where “change” was being championed, and put in a positive light. The full vlog is here and the bit I’m talking about is right at the end. YouTubers record their lives in way more detail than your average person and it must be interesting for them to look back and see how much they’ve changed. I often look back on this blog and think my god I’ve changed.
I absolutely loved how Zoe totally embraces it. She’s right, “changing” is often seen as being inherently bad. Changing your mind can be seen as being indecisive or weak. Changing your opinion can be seen as not knowing who you are or what you want. Changing up any sort of lifestyle choice can be a vulnerable time. But we change every day, albeit tiny amounts, but over time we start seeing noticeable evolutions. Change can be hard too, it can be confusing because just as you think “YEP THIS IS ME AND MY SOLID OPINIONS” and write down your manifesto for life and chisel it into stone, you can end up thinking differently a few months later.
SO I wanted to write down a few “it’s OKS”, for my own sake mainly:
1. It’s OK to change your mind.
We often find it a bit embarrassing “back-tracking” on a previous opinion or thought, but we are HUMAN! We get things wrong! I’ve learned to say “I don’t know” more often, instead of jumping to quick conclusions that I’ll later regret. I love being corrected or having someone point something out to me. I like that Twitter allows me to sometimes make mistakes. I like that one day I might see my path going a certain way and then my path might go a slightly different direction. I can’t predict it and that’s fine – and fun too. You can contradict yourself, it’s OK. We’re all trying our best.
2. It’s OK to change career.
On a recent podcast episode of mine I talk freelance life with Ashley C Ford, and we talk about how it’s OK to “go self-employed” and then decide “hey I kind of want to do an office job again” and swap in between. You don’t have to pigeon-hole yourself and it’s never too late to start again or change direction. As we grow, our interests change, and I find that to be a very exciting thing. I admire anyone who takes the leap into the unknown or wakes up one morning thinking “I’m going to change this” if they’ve realised how miserable the job is making them. Big change is a big risk but it can mean a big increase in happiness levels.
3. It’s OK to change how you feel about a friend.
Whether you’re the one that’s changed or they’ve changed, it doesn’t even matter, and there’s never any point arguing over the small details. Sometimes, you drift from friends because things aren’t the same and THAT’S OK. There doesn’t need to be this massive show-down or drama or people asking you questions, it just is what it is. Sometimes, people aren’t a good fit for us anymore. It’s not you being a horrible person, it’s just that our needs, values and tolerance levels change.
“That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible.
And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”
– Malcolm Gladwell
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