If Change Were a Person…

The word “change” used to make me cringe. In counseling when I was 14 years old, I remember completing a form and that awful word filled nearly every blank.

What is your biggest fear? 
Change.  

What do you dislike the most? 
Change.  

What has been the hardest experience in your life thus far? 
Change. 

This counseling session happened after a sudden move from Africa back to the US. We were given one week’s notice to pack our bags, leave the country, and go directly to a live-in counseling center where we would stay for 3 months.

I didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to many people in our African village, nor did I realize the enormity of what was taking place. It would be 10 years before I would ever go back to that town and see those people again. 

We remained in the United States for the following year and during that time lived out of a suitcase in 18 different houses. The following two years followed a similar pattern: changing schools, moving back to a different city in Africa, moving back to a different state in America. At that point in my life, nearly all of the changes were out of my control, unexpected, unwelcome, and incredibly unenjoyable. 

If Change were a person, I’d almost feel bad for it. Poor thing took the blame for all of my struggles. But, when you frequently shift between continents, schools, friends, houses, and just about everything, it becomes almost essential to find something to blame for the gut-wrenching achiness that seems to always be looming. It seemed reasonable to pin it on Change — better than blaming my parents, their work, or God.

I remember my teenage self telling someone that my ideal life would be one that stayed the same forever. One house, one city, kids who attend one school their whole lives. Maybe if Change were absent, life would hurt less. 

Turns out, that’s not really how it works.

Turns out, many TCKs grow to need change, to crave change, to even subconsciously yearn for change. I was certain that would never be me, and that Change was only working against me.

Turns out, I was wrong.

In adulthood, my greatest enemy became my friend. My comfort zone. Now, my answers on that form would look more like this:

What is your biggest fear? 
Being stuck in one place for forever.  

What do you dislike the most? 
Going months without traveling.

What has been the hardest experience in your life thus far? 
Learning to settle into one place. 

Funny how life works.

It is because of Change that I grew into the person that I am; that I had so many incredible experiences. It is because of Change that I want my kids to experience the abundant, hard, wonderful, challenging, confusing, incredible life of being a TCK. It is because of Change that I am able to truly empathize with the TCKs I work with. It is because of Change that I am learning the art of being able to move and adapt and also to settle in one place for a while.  

Those hard years, characterized by Change, were some of the most growth-filled and defining years of my life. Through an older (and hopefully wiser) lens, I now see how critical that season was for my future to beautifully unfold the way that it has.

So, if Change were a person, we would shake hands and exchange a small, knowing smile — one mixed with apology and gratitude. Mine silently saying, “I’m sorry I blamed you for everything. You really are one of the best things that ever happened to me.” and Change’s saying, “I’m sorry it had to hurt so bad. I’m glad you see now the good that I knew would come from it.”

Change, you aren’t so bad after all. I’m glad we’re friends.

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