We all have ‘that friend’. You know someone for years. You’ve seen them go through a ton of stuff and think you could easily call their moves in any given situation. You know them inside out and they stopped surprising you years ago. They’ve been the same person since, well, you first met. They’re as predictable to you as the end of a Friends episode where everyone kisses and makes up after 18 minutes of a messy he said/she said blame game and then, ‘Bam!’ One day, all of a sudden, out of the clear blue sky, he or she just goes and changes.
And we’re not talking a simple change – like ordering a latte with brunch for the last 7 years and mysteriously switching to cappuccinos one day. We’re talking big-ass life changes. Like they’ve decided to move halfway across the world to start a new life. Or they’ve never even breathed the slightest interest in art to you and have decided – in what seemed like a split decision made overnight – to become a painter.
So what happened? Did they just decide to change for the sake of changing? Did they decide to flip the script on some whim? Was it a mid-life crisis? And what’s a mid-life crisis anyway? Isn’t it just an excuse to quit your job, find another mate, buy a fancy new red convertible and maybe a facelift to match?
It can easily be any number of things – or all of them combined. Your friend may have simply had a change of perspective. Sometimes we switch up our lives when we have an ‘aha moment’ – when something significant happens that makes us do an inventory of our lives. When we check our bucket list and say, “shit. I haven’t done that thing yet” or, “I haven’t been there yet.” But sometimes it has nothing to do with any of that at all.
Sometimes, we just wake up and decide that it’s time to shake off the mask. Sometimes we realize that we’ve been walking around pretending to be something (or someone) we’re not. We’ve been pretending that we’re happy in the life we’re living because it was just easier (and therefore more comfortable) to continue doing whatever we were refusing to change. And refusing to change despite our best interests and that nagging voice that comes up every so often telling you it’s time to switch things up.
It’s easier. We’re more comfortable and it’s safer. It’s less risky and less scary inside our comfort zone versus taking the plunge and changing something significant.
It was easier to stay in that comfortable, status quo place where our habits and inclinations are as cozy as being wrapped in a soft fleece blanket, with a cup of hot tea on a chilly Sunday afternoon while watching the rain fall and the wind blow outside our window. Yes. Our comfort zone is THAT comfortable. That’s why it’s called the comfort zone.
But comfortable isn’t always good. We often trade comfort for change that’s necessary for our growth and evolution. And so we stay the same. We don’t make necessary changes and tweaks to our lives as we’re living it. Instead, we ignore what our gut is trying to tell us and days pass. Then months. Then years. And before we know it, we’ve become someone we don’t recognize and sometimes, someone we don’t even like.
And that’s when we wake up and when, what appears like an impulsive decision, we decide we’ve had enough.
We’ve had enough with pretending.
We’ve had enough with faking it.
We’ve had enough with denying it.
We’ve had enough with protecting ourselves from the fear of taking a chance on ourselves.
We’ve had enough with playing it safe because we now know that playing that game = lying to ourselves about what could make us truly happy.
And so we take the mask off. When that mask comes off, some people will embrace the change and appreciate that you’ve defined a new space for yourself and redefined how you want to play in this world (keep those people around).
Others though, might not be so happy about the change. They might not like what they see because we stop fitting into the box they’ve built for us or the box we’ve built for ourselves. They lose their reference to us. We might piss people off. We might disappoint them. And while they’re absolutely entitled to feel what they’re feeling, the key is to keep that mask off. We have to continue to be true to ourselves despite what others may think.
After all, no one else can tell you what’s best for you, than you. Life on someone else’s terms is a life unlived.