Aversion to Change

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Have I ever told you I hate change? When my five-year-old asks me what I’m afraid of, usually because he’s going to draw a picture of it, try to surprise me with something, my answer is always the same.
“I’m afraid of change, honey.”

By the ripe old age of five, he’s heard this reply often enough to deem it worthy of a deep eye roll. “Not like that. What do you think is scary?”

“To me, there is nothing scarier than change. Oooh! Especially if it’s a change I can’t control. Does that answer the question?”
“No,” he says with exasperation. “How about spiders? I’m just going to draw you a picture of spiders.”
“Sounds good, sweetheart.”

We love our life in Minot. Thinking about putting it on pause for a while was a hard decision to make.
Amy Allender photo

My aversion to change led my college boyfriend to question our relationship. He would graduate and go on to be a pilot in the Air Force. Could a person who loves to dig in her heels, and avoid change (unless meticulously micromanaged by herself) ever survive the life of a military spouse? The question was hypothetical. We both knew I wouldn’t be a good fit for a life of frequent moves and a revolving door of towns and friends.

In addition to disliking change, I also become incredibly determined when someone implies I may not be up to a challenge.
That boyfriend went on to be my husband. And, of course, I went on to become a military spouse–making a life of being chronically “not from around here.”

Given my history, it may be surprising to learn that I’ve voluntarily opted for some major life change in the near future. It’s the kind of adventure that can’t be completely micromanaged. The kind that has a loose start date and a looser end date.
In the coming weeks, my husband will leave for a 12 week TDY to Holloman, AFB in New Mexico. This will be followed by a few weeks at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, in Battle Creek, MI.

I surprised even myself when I warmed up to the idea of uprooting our family and predictable Hotdish Land routine to join Derek on this months-long adventure with fuzzy details and even fuzzier timeframes. At first, I thought the best thing for all of us would be keeping as much of our family within our rhythm as possible. After all, there are studies that show how important predictability is to early childhood development.

But after really considering the options, I realized that my own fear of change was what held me back–and in turn held our family back. Fearing change, the stress of facing something unknown, and taking on all the tasks involved in putting life on pause in one location nearly paralyze me. I don’t want to let my trepidation stand in the way of what has potential to be a beautiful season for all of us.

Being a military spouse has taught me many things. Here are threeI’m finding particularly applicable in the weeks leading up to a period of great unpredictability.

First of all, just because I’m afraid of change doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Just because I feel afraid, doesn’t mean the change will yield something negative. Looking back, each time big change has forced itself upon us–due to deployment, PCS, TDY, or any major life stressors–I’ve been refined, and blessed by it. More often than not, the change I deeply fear comes bearing gifts that positively impact every part of my life.

Our emotions are valid and real, but that doesn’t mean they are the truth. I’m scared and stressed, but I have confidence good things will come from stepping into the unknown.

Second, if we have the choice to be together we should take it. I’m preaching to the choir here, but military life will call on families to spend time apart. If you have a chance to stay together–do it. I’m sure of very few things–but one is that at the end of my life the one thing I’ll want more of is time with my people. I’ve never regretted prioritizing time with Derek, or creating a way for our family to be together.

Third, I’m capable of figuring things out. We all are. Sure, there are unknowns. But this life has perfectly equipped me to face each challenge as it comes. Life in TFL with two kids–we’ll figure it out. Homeschooling for kindergarten–I’ll ask someone. Will I be lonely for my friends, and my sweet Hotdish Land–you betcha. But we’ll figure it out.

I don’t know what change is facing you right now, but you’re more equipped than you think. Change will bring good, but we need to be intentional about seeing it. If all else fails, use the “I’m-not-from-around-here card.” That usually stirs enough empathy, and change the subject long enough to get out of a jam.

In the face of uncertainty, there’s always one thing I can count on: I’ll be happy to come home to Minot.
For more stories of my Not From Around Here life, tips on living in Minot, and ways to create a positive mental space, join me on Instagram (@amy_allender) or Facebook (@amyallenderblog).

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