I have never embraced change.
Say the word to me and I get this look of terror on my face, the shakes of my body, and the rampage of thoughts attacking my mind until I am absolutely brain drained.
I am a creature of habit. I like to stay in my comfort zone. I embrace predictability, yet I crave these traits I desire from afar: adaptability and flexibility. A big part of me believes that I love and savor regular because the journey of my life has been quite irregular, so I yearn some control in a life that has been fully out of my control. But, then again, when do we ever have control over anyone or anything? Control is only an illusion.
So when my boss who is only a couple years younger than me called me in his office to announce that I received a promotion, I plastered the plastic exuberant expression on my face while my insides started to vibrate uncontrollably like a tuning fork gone awry.
Don’t get me completely wrong.
I certainly did feel excitement. Miniscule excitement at that. The feeling of apprehension overpowered the miniscule excitement I felt only because my supervisor had recognized me for my hard work and efforts. Many outsiders may have viewed that my hard work and efforts stemmed from trying to get ahead and climb up the ‘corporate’ ladder in life, but, actually, my hard work and efforts stemmed for wanting to do everything and anything I can and then some more for the cancer patients and their family members that I work with.
I have told just about no one about this promotion. Only my closest friends and family know about it. Their immediate reaction is natural: Clamors of “Congratulations,” immediately followed by the question: “Are you going to get more money?”
And, here’s the thing about me. I have never identified money as the most important thing in my life, nor have I ever identified it as equivalent to success. To me, my most important thing in life and as I get older is “time,” or freedom, and good health. Time to spend with our loved ones. Time to do what we want and when we want. Good health going hand in hand with time to do all we can do to the fullest extent and in this one life to live. We live in a world and a society where the more education, the more money, the more overachieving we are (no matter the price or people involved), the more of anything or anyone is always better and improvement. To contradict with this belief of “more is better” is the phrase “be happy with what you have because you do not know when it will be taken away from you.” Isn’t this quite the struggle then to want more to be better, yet then told to be happy with what he/she has?
When in doubt about the conundrums of life, I turn to my Father who is probably the wisest person I know of. I asked him my question that has been burning on my brain since I was working over 10 years ago: “At what point should a person just be happy with what he/she has versus the motivation to become better? Like, I’m just happy to have a job and do not feel any desire for a supposed better-paying job. Does that make me lazy and unmotivated then? How can that be lazy of me when I am already happy where I am and with what I’m doing?”
I asked him this question while I was driving us to a restaurant for brunch. My father and I have had some of our best conversations in the car with the windows cracked open for fresh air and the mellow music playing softly as we chatter away. My father explained the balance to have motivation in life without obsession. Life requires and needs the little bit of stress to motivate and get a person out of his/her comfort zone while never losing sight to who he/she really is and staying true to the self. Obsession is that danger zone of becoming overly stressed of the illusions of supposed more or better and losing sight of who a person really is in the process.
I’ve been thinking of my father’s words after these last few brain draining days of training for the new promotion. And, as the days are inching closer to the go-live date of a storm full of changes revolved around this promotion, I hear so many conflicting voices in my head: Surrender and Let whatever is meant to happen to happen, Set up boundaries of what I can and cannot do, Try my best, You can do it and you have nothing to fear, and the voices go on and on in a dizzying circle.
And, when I close my eyes, the voices quiet down with the simple truth that everything will be OK. But, most of all, the clarity that this ‘promotion’ is not about the job, but about myself and leaving behind what was to go towards what is to come in as easy and even welcoming of a manner as possible. The promotion is about transitions of the self on this journey of life and adjusting to them while staying wholesome to oneself. And, the promotion is not about the paper money, but the personal rewards of myself in the past, present, and future in life and not on the job.
Here is what is to come not on a job promotion, but on a personal promotion and growth of learning, embracing change, becoming more adaptable, and being about balance.