For the past 10 years, I have moved at least once every year, if not multiple times within a single year. In my 30 years on Earth, I have lived in 28 different homes (if you can even call them that). We moved a lot when I was growing up – from state to state and house to house. As an adult, I don’t think I’ve ever really felt satisfied or settled. I’d love to say that I have a really good, solid reason for why I’ve moved so much – but I don’t. It could just be what’s become normal to me – or maybe I’ve been searching for something, maybe I’m not one to settle for less when I know it could be so much more – maybe it simply doesn’t bother me, maybe I actually like it.
I’m coming up on one year in my home in South Minneapolis – I live with my boyfriend Alex and our puppy, Finn. Our place is perfect and unless something monumental happens between now and June, I’m pretty sure I am going to break my moving streak. Coming up on this 1-year mark got me thinking about change – how we embrace it, why we shy away from it and everything in between. Change is inevitable – it’s the only thing that is constant in life; sometimes we seek it out, sometimes it seeks us. Regardless, change is always inherently good, even if it appears to be bad. As humans, it’s almost instinctual for us to seek change even though we know it’s going to be slightly uncomfortable. So what are some reasons we put ourselves in the face of change – why do we seek it?
From a biological perspective, we are the most adaptive species on Earth and we got to where we are today via our incredible ability to adapt to change – remember that in those uncomfortable moments of uncertainty. Take comfort in knowing that you were built to persevere – you were built to adapt. We’re constantly looking for ways to do better, make our lives easier and push the limits of what we thought was possible. It’s part of the culture we live in but it’s also literally what we evolved to do.
We weren’t necessarily built for the world that we live in today and adaptation takes time (like more than a few lifetimes type of time). In any given moment, our emotions and instincts are being pulled in 1,000 different directions. Whether you’re perusing social media or being served an advertisement, we are constantly bombarded with this idea of perfection. Hate to break it to you but not every relationship is going to be like “The Notebook.” This idea of perfection (or even the slightest glimmer of it) is sometimes at fault for why we feel unsettled. Knowing what’s out there and what we are missing out on can make us feel squirmy – so much so that we invented an acronym for it – FOMO. Even though searching for perfection might seem like a bad thing (because perfection is unattainable, obviously), it encourages us to try new things and push outside our comfort zone.
It’s in those stressful, uncomfortable moments that we grow and change. I’m sure you’ve put yourself in a scary situation and come out on the other side so thankful you had the courage to step outside of your comfort zone. A lot of our biological adaptations are ‘hard-wired’ – but we have also been gifted a thing called neural plasticity. Essentially, every time you try something new or change your routine, you are literally creating a new neural pathway in your brain. This is why change can be so scary – when we encounter a new experience, we don’t have a conditioned response for it like we do for other things. As a species that was built to adapt – to survive – this is also a pretty good reason for us to try new things.
Change is filled with uncertainty and we feel incredibly vulnerable when we are entering into the unknown, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that vulnerability is the key to everything that is good in life. So how can we learn to embrace change and subsequently vulnerability – how can we harness these moments of uncertainty, these moments of fear and use them to better ourselves and the world around us? Keep trying new things, failing, trying again – laugh at yourself, embrace imperfection and recognize that we are all just out here trying our best. If you need me, I’ll just be over here casually creating a new neural pathway by staying put for more than a year.
Katie Weed is an anthropologist and philosopher at heart. She’s usually one of three places: outside, at the gym or at work. By day, she works as a social media strategist at Nike, a freelance writer and sometimes a model. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her 18 plants and her German Shorthaired Pointer, Finn.
BY Katie Weed - March 31, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.