“People don’t change”
I’ve been hearing the above statement from others way too often. I’ll admit, I used to agree with it. For example, if a friend of mine’s boyfriend cheated on her, I would console her by saying some of the common being-a-good-supportive-friend phrases such as “once a cheater, always a cheater” and, “you deserve better, he will never change”. However now, after growing up a lot and even dealing with my own experiences of heartbreak and loss, I no longer agree with it. Instead, I believe that people can change, but only if they want to change for themselves.
I have seen change first hand in myself. Anyone who knew me during childhood knows that I was incredibly shy, self-conscious and unsure of myself. I suffered from extreme anxiety during preschool and part of middle school, to the point where I would start screaming crying every time my mother would drop me off at school. I also refused to speak in school for the first couple of years after moving to London (and I’m honestly not sure why). I entered high school with a little more confidence, but still was unsure of myself, shy and body-image obsessed. I would refuse to eat lunch at school or even eat in front of my then-boyfriend who I spent most of my time with, even though I was already on the border of underweight. I cared way too much about what other’s thought of me and I made it my mission to get everyone to like and approve of me.
And I am telling you, I couldn’t be anymore different today. It didn’t happen overnight, though; it was a process. I still remember to this day the exact moment when I decided I wanted to change for myself. I was pacing around my too small for comfort freshmen dorm room, overthinking absolutely everything that happened that day, as per usual, when I suddenly thought in my head “enough is enough”. I didn’t want to live my life the way I was living it. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling. I had enough and I was determined to change. I picked up my iPhone and google searched for a counseling center in Boston. In a hurry, I called the first number I could find. The minute I heard someone pick up, I immediately hung up. I waited another five minutes, gathered up some more courage, and called again. This time, I stayed on the line. I talked to the therapist for a while, and then set up an appointment. I have been in therapy ever since and every single sessions changes and effects me in one way or another. Every session gives me a new insight, a new understanding; it teaches me how to live life in a better, more fulfilling way. Ever since my first summer in therapy, I began on my journey of self love and happiness. I am not the person I was in preschool, middle school or high school. I have changed dramatically and I know that my driving force of change was pain.
Pain of leaving my life behind when I was 5 years old and moving across the world. Pain of not feeling comfortable in my own skin. Pain of being bullied. Pain of self-hatred and anxiety. Pain of insecurity. Pain of unhappiness.
Pain changes people.
You might be saying that I changed simply because I grew up and experienced life more. However, it isn’t that simple. I actively sought out help in order to fix the negative perception I held about myself. I wanted to be different and to think differentely. If I didn’t actively seek out help, I wouldn’t have learnt how to do so. The takeaway of this post is that pain changes people, in either good or bad ways. People change and grow everyday, so saying “people don’t change” is somewhat ignorant. Heartbreak changes people. Loss changes people. Second chances change people. Just remember that.