An attitude is an interesting thing. Most people will describe a person by how he or she looks. Long or short hair? Blue or brown eyes? Tall or short? It’s the attitude or personality that usually comes last in the description. But isn’t that really the most important aspect of a person? You can get past any deficiencies in how someone looks, but you’re stuck with a personality.
I’ve always been a person with a “sunny” disposition – as a friend recently put it – but I’ve recently felt as though my attitude has taken a slightly different direction. Now don’t worry, I’m not suddenly becoming a pessimist or doomsayer. I’m not even saying my attitude has changed. I’ve just felt that recently I’ve been viewing life through less than rosy glasses. As far as I can tell there is nothing that caused this change. I haven’t recently gone through a major breakup with a guy or had a loved one die or been in a car accident or had a near-death experience. Life has been pretty normal.
The only thing I can even think to attribute the change to are the personalities of people around me every day. They threaten and taunt me to let my outlook on life falter and take a pessimistic spin. It’s not like they are consciously pursuing this, but it’s through small actions, words and attitudes that they’re encouraging me to claim a negative take on life.
It’s the daily barrage of seemingly inconsequential attitudes that is slowly wearing me down. They are the elements of a person rooted so deeply that they don’t even realize that’s who they are. Sometimes spoken with words, many times spoken only with actions and body language I hear: “That’s not the way we’ve always done things.” “I don’t think we can do that.” “I don’t know how to do that and I don’t want to learn how to do it either.” “Why do you think like that?” “Are you sure that’s the right decision to make?” The “Hmmph…” and “Hmmm…” and disapproving looks with the eyes and head shaking and arms crossed and tuning out of a conversation then saying with that voice, “Ok,” and walking away.
I’ve never wanted to be that person. I’m afraid of becoming her. I’m actually annoyed by her – heels in the ground, chin tucked into her chest, fists ready to fight for the status quo, even when the path of change is clearly littered with an abundance of benefits. I’m afraid of that attitude rubbing off on me. Yet I feel as though I’m slowly acquiring those traits.
Why is it now I feel like I’m becoming that person? Is my thinking valid? Am I actually afraid of my attitude changing or have I simply become afraid of change?
Perhaps I’m dissatisfied with my life and unsure of what the future holds, so I’m assuming my attitude has changed and in turn I’m blaming it on those around me. I find myself wondering if it’s just the stage of life that I’m in: single, unsure what to “do” for the rest of my life and unable to clearly discern where the path is leading. Aren’t those things you’re supposed to deal with in high school and college, or at least the few years out of college? Yet, here I am: 29 and full of questions. Certainly I know my life is not terrible or going to be a colossal waste if I don’t have all the answers right now. I know that God has a plan for my life and He loves me. But so many times it’s hard to wrap my mind around that. Seriously. I’m just a girl who doesn’t always know up from down. A girl who feels alive when she’s stretched (forced or willingly) beyond what she’s ever known.
I don’t want to be the one resisting change. The one who is afraid that change will change her and instead keeps her heels dug deeply into the ground, hoping to stay in place, only to realize life around her has moved and she’s actually taken steps backward and is now pressed against a wall and being forced to move forward. That is the antithesis of who I am and who I’ve ever wanted to be.
I want to be a person who embraces change and throws herself headlong into new things without being afraid of losing what is comfortable and known. The joy of discovery, personal growth and possible failure is so much greater than the pain of never tapping into that available potential. I want to keep getting better as a person, as a Christian, and growing deeper in who I am and what I can handle. I want to embrace the future, with all of its unknown elements and scary moments. I want to be the girl who has a job, but doesn’t let it define her. I want to be spontaneous and curious and generous. I want to see the world, be a part of culture and experience things I don’t even know exist yet.
Change is not bad. It is not scary. I am determined that my attitude will not be downgraded or reshaped negatively by change or by other’s perception of it. Change is good. It is beneficial and exciting and challenging. And challenging is a test I will gladly face.