In the past six months, I’ve experienced nonstop change: I quit my first job, moved across the country, signed up for an apartment with two random roommates, started a new job, tried sports and activities I’ve never done before, met lots of people, and the list goes on and on. Looking back, I realized the amount of fear and anxiety that surrounds change -- no matter how big or small it is. I’m here to tell you that everything will be okay. In fact, most of your changes will probably turn out even better than expected and yield really positive results in your life. However, I realize how crippling that initial fear can be, so here are a few tips to help you cope:
Tip #1 What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
This is an activity of logic that helps me mentally. I always try to pinpoint what my actual fear is around a changing situation. For example, before I start a new sport, I get extremely nervous. When I ask myself why, I realize it’s because I’m worried I won’t be very good or that I won’t be accepted into this community. So in my eyes, the worst thing that could happen is that I won’t be able to keep up with everyone else and people will be mean to me at first.
While this wouldn’t be an ideal situation, is this something I would be able to survive? Yes. Because I know the initial purpose of starting a new sport or activity is to dip your toes in the water and that I will get better over time. I also know that I’m capable of making friends and will ultimately earn everyone’s respect by working hard. However, the more likely situation is that everyone will welcome me with open arms and help me transition into the sport step by step. So if I can mentally handle the worst possible situation, I can certainly handle the better version of that.
Tip #2 Prepare Yourself
For me, preparation takes a lot of the pressure off a new situation. Whether it’s through research or becoming familiar with a new environment, there are lots of ways to prepare for change. If you’re starting a job, ask to visit the office before your first day so you can get comfortable with the office layout and meet people beforehand. If you’re nervous about trying a different fitness class, get to the facility a little early so you can introduce yourself to the instructor beforehand and let them know it’s your first time. If you’re moving to a new city, plan a few visits before the big move and reconnect with old friends who live there. You’ll find that, once you go through this “trial” exposure, you’ll be much less nervous for your actual first day or work, class, etc. because you already know what to expect. Do whatever you need to do to feel prepared.
Tip #3 Believe In Your Resilience
Like I said before, most changes you decide to make will yield positive results. However, that doesn’t mean transitions come without bumps. I think a lot of fear comes from the thought that we won’t be able to handle the curveballs life throws our way. A way to combat this mindset is to recall past obstacles you faced, and how you dealt with them. Yes, they might have been hard to get through, but you eventually found a solution or moved past it, right? You’ll be able to apply that same strength in mentality to this situation too. Don’t underestimate your resiliency -- humans were ultimately designed to survive.
Remember that courage is not an absence of fear, but rather an acknowledgement of that fear and going ahead anyway. So the fact that you’re choosing to instigate change in your life, despite this fear, is completely admirable. With the right mental preparation and faith in yourself, you’ll be able to conquer anything you set your mind to.