My 4 year old started pre school at a new school today after spending 2.5 years at the same daycare. We made the choice to move him to prepare him for Kindergarten next year and to provide him with a different, richer experience. Two of his best friends go to his new school. It’s a warm, caring, nurturing and playful environment to learn in. But explaining why something is changing to a 4 year old is really hard. With every answer we responded to his questions with we have been met with “but, why?” Hearing that question over and over got me thinking about change and how we, as human beings, are such creatures of habit. I drink coffee out of the same mug everyday. I sleep on the same side of the bed every night. I sing the same songs to my kids at bedtime. We like the comfort of stability because we know on some level there is more about life that is out of our control than in our control. We cling to rituals and the expected because the unexpected feels scary. But as much as we feel fear in the face of the unknown, we are also resilient and adaptable. Life is hard. Change is even harder. The two are interconnected and essential to one another. How can we grow if everything stays exactly the same?
Brene Brown talks about the power of “courage over comfort” in her work researching shame and vulnerability. She says it is the people willing to rumble with failure and who choose courage over comfort that are the real heroes in the world. I couldn’t agree more. Humans love being comfortable. It’s easy. It’s a way of avoiding shame and guilt and embarrassment and all of the emotions we consider “icky”. The cost of living only in comfort is great. It costs us our self worth, joy, and the experience of growing through change.
I dropped my son off and he was scared, sad, and didn’t want me to leave his side. When I picked him up he burst out of the classroom with a huge smile on his face and enveloped me with a hug. The pride he felt for doing the hard thing was so evident, as was his relief that it was over and he was back in his safe place. I have no doubt he will continue to feel all the icky feelings as he gets used to his new school and his new teachers. And when he’s comfortable and settled, another change will come his way. That’s the way life works. It makes us stronger. It makes us braver. It makes us better able to face the inevitable pain and suffering that comes with being human. It’s in the struggle that we learn what we are made of. We learn just how worthy we are of love and joy and the comfort that comes after having the courage.
My son came home and ate lunch and watched an episode of Paw Patrol. He was peaceful. And he will go back to school on Friday and do it all over again…
We do the hard thing and then we curl up in the comfortable place resting up for the next hard thing.