Photography courtesy of Carly Clegg
hange is uncomfortable. It’s a type of growing pain that has an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. It’s a season when self doubt can creep in; when the fear of the unknown can nearly debilitate the soul and the body is left numb, wading in the reality of starting over. However, with change comes prosperity. It’s an inevitable part of life that ultimately molds us into the person we’re meant to be. It’s an opportunity to evaluate your current circumstance and prepare for your next move, whether it be physical, mental or emotional; it’s a fight or flight decision that calls for action. You can either choose to coast throughout change or soar beyond it. I prefer the latter.
Easier said than done, right?
‘Rolling with the punches’ (to quote my mother) has been a strength of mine that I’ve always been proud of. It’s taken multiple disappointments, countless breakdowns and one too many rejections to learn there is a silver lining when life throws you curveballs. To be frank, the whole glass half full thing takes more energy, effort and time than it sounds. To be optimistic after being let down, or broken up with, or fired, or heck- after someone steals your parking spot at the grocery store after a bad day at work, can be near impossible. We’re human and the weight of this world can be a heavy burden to carry; so how do we embrace circumstances that go awry in a positive light? Perspective. Change or ‘bumps in the road’ in my opinion, is like a detour – a scenic route even, that turns into a vital lesson, that leads to new ventures, that ends up becoming a highway to a happier, stronger, more confident, liberated me. It’s a mindset. A choice…to choose joy throughout the journey of life.
Within the past 4 years, I’ve experienced change in the form of graduating college, moving cities (three times), getting married, changing careers, adopting a dog and experiencing loss of close family members. While some milestones are certainly worth celebrating, there’s no doubt that these life events can act as a death of familiarity in exchange for a new normal. For a nostalgic person like me, these progressional stages are both a challenging yet formative practice, throwing all control out the window and embracing the next endeavor with anticipation.
Looking back, I’d be lying if I said my first response to each of these chapters was positivity. In fact, for the first time in my life I felt the crippling agony of anxiety. I was broken, depressed, lost and directionless. Confused at my emotions, I felt incapable of being understood. Or being heard. I lost myself, for a season, trying to find my purpose, my ‘worth,’ my place, in the escapable next steps of growing up that seemed to drown my existence like a wave upon the shore. There’s no right or wrong way to overcome this feeling. I didn’t realize it, but at the time I was slowly but surely planting myself in my surroundings, growing my roots deeper in friendships, in hobbies, in growing my network, accepting the newness and broadening my comfort zone. Growing my wings, little by little… that’s where joy comes in. Joy takes courage, humility, gratitude, selflessness and patience. It’s a muscle that takes stretching and conditioning to maintain its longevity. I believe that when joy takes over, one can feel empowered to live unapologetically; to build community, to live free from the bondage of comparison, to chase dreams boldly, to live in the present and set intentions. A joyful life is one that is spent in contentment.
Flash forward to today, I’m currently sitting in my 740 sqare-foot home in sunny San Diego, over a thousands miles away from my best friends, family, my work wives, mentors and colleagues, favorite restaurants, running trails and local theaters. It’s been four months since we’ve moved and I’ve grown more accustomed to my new normal one day at a time, falling more in love with the present. Every so often, I reflect on those darker days of trying to prove myself to the world and look back on how far I’ve come with my reaction to change. An exercise that has helped me adjust and appreciate the here and now is inspired by writer Joanna Goddard, who shines light on simple pleasures that bring joy to the everyday.
Some of my simple pleasures include:
Fresh sheets after a shower
Sunday mornings after church
Goat cheese & honey toast
The deep breaths after exercising
Home videos from my childhood
Riding with the windows down
Finishing a project before the deadline
Moments that seem ordinary but make for a joyful and fulfilling life
What are your simple joys?
Whether you’re like me, at the brink of a new beginning, overwhelmed with possibilities or you’re mid-chapter, adjusting, perhaps struggling with anxiety…remember to grant yourself grace amidst the growing pains of change and choose joy throughout the journey.
The best is (always) yet to come.
Carly is a Texas Native living in San Diego, California with her husband and English Bulldog. Clegg studied Telecommunication Media Studies at Texas A&M University and has been chasing dreams ever since. Currently, she is the proud Digital Content Director for a woman-owned online boutique, Town & Key headquartered in Dallas, Texas that embraces individuality and empowers women to express their unique style. A performing arts enthusiast, her passion for production led her to positions at entertainment and media giants like the Walt Disney World Company and iHeartMedia. Always open for thought-provoking conversation and connecting with others over an iced coffee, you can find her on Instagram at @carlyclegg.