Change is inevitable. Change is welcome. Change is hard. Change for change sake is pointless. Change is a process not an event. Change is scary. Change is good. Change is ahead. And the phrases go on. Everything indeed is always changing even if we feel like we are in a static place in our life. I am a big fan of taking on change to learn and grow and to create the life you want. Change that you want is hard enough to handle for most people. When change is trust upon you, that is when the going gets tough. You might feel like everything it is falling apart and that you have no control.
All of us have to face an inevitable big change in life that you really cannot control: aging. Many of my friends and clients are deeply challenged with the changes that come with aging. Some of the choices that come with aging are relatively straight forward on the surface. Like should I let my hair go gray? Yet in the work place and society at large, hair color and style are not such simple choices. I am a huge fan of the Crown Act that allows everyone to wear their hair however they want without fear of discrimination. California was the first state to outlaw discrimination based on hairstyle and other states are following. Women of color in particular have had to face great prejudice about their hair and go through time consuming and painful treatments to make their hair conform to white norms. The Crown Act is a seemingly small yet very important step of recognizing the beautiful varieties of physical appearance in the world.
Hair color, just like style, often leads to discrimination. Although coloring hair can be for pure fun and decoration, often covering up gray hair is required to conform to youth standards in the workplace. Fortunately deciding to go gray naturally as you age is having a big gain in popularity among women right now. Some young woman are even dying their hair gray. The shift to embracing gray is a wonderful way of dealing with the natural process of aging. Instead of trying to control, just go with it. Dealing with changes in appearance due to aging, as difficult as it may be for some, is small compared to other realities of aging.
Many changes that arise due to aging are more complex because they don’t only impact you, they also impact friends and family. Living arrangements are one of the biggest and potentially disruptive changes that you will have to deal with as you age. Planning can help to ease the transition but no matter how much you plan, the change will have emotional as well as physical impacts. And looking into the future is a difficult task. Trying to anticipate what you will want and need when you are older isn’t like gazing into a crystal ball. It is more like playing a game of chance. You can’t know what the future will bring but you can consider possible scenarios and make some general plans for those scenarios. It would be lovely if we could all easily and gracefully welcome change. Although that might be hard to imagine, there is a way to soften your experience with change. Acceptance.
Acceptance recognizes that you may not be able to fight all changes. Rather than struggle against the changes, with the practice of noticing the changes as they happen in your life and with the practice of accepting those changes, you will feel more in control. Some of the changes will be emotionally shattering and even still, acceptance can dull the suffering that is accompanying those difficult changes. Acceptance is best practiced all the time with smaller issues to give you practice for the bigger issues. Over time it gets more automatic and easier. Whether you are working toward accepting the wrinkles that emerge on your face and other physical changes of aging or you are working to accept that you can no longer live in your current home, may you find a peaceful resolution and live with ease.