When I was a child, I was scared of everything. My fear was exacerbated by the fact that I moved several times throughout my childhood. I struggled to make friends each time I entered a new classroom. I was a chubby, frightened little girl, afraid of not being liked, afraid of the unknown. 

My discomfort led to a fear of everything but especially change. My fear of changing schools morphed into a massive fear of everything that could change. My fear limited me on every level of my life, through junior high, high school and beyond. I was always trying to control every aspect of my life to prevent any disruptions to my perfect facade. 

My method to prevent change never worked. Change always happened and when it did, I was always unprepared and then sad. As much as I tried, I could never make myself accept change. As a result, I spent my life contouring myself, bobbing and weaving to avoid this fear. Without fail, I failed. As hard as I tried, I could not understand how change kept finding me, haunting me. Then when I was 39, my life was turned upside down; my husband died, and my world did a 180-degree spin. Everywhere I turned, change found me. Now everything had changed, and I hated every aspect of it. I fought acceptance. I fought fear. And I fought the idea of change. Again.

Until one day, the fear and resistance caused me more pain than the actual grief. So, I decided to embrace everything: every moment of change, every moment of fear, every moment of every day. Once I did everything shifted. I was still consumed with grief, but I was no longer afraid of change that had gripped me my whole life. I decided that my fear of what might happen was greater than what was actually happening in my life. 

I made a choice. Instead of fear I would choose respect. I would respect my feelings, all of them. I willed myself to embrace whatever feelings I was having and show my feelings some real respect. Embracing change was one of the hardest aspects of my life and remains so. Today, as I write this, I have no idea what will happen tomorrow. Will we as a world be stuck indefinitely in our homes contemplating the end of days? I don’t know. But I do know that I will respect and embrace every feeling of dread and uncertainty that comes my way. I am choosing to release the fear of the unknown and embrace whatever change barrels toward me. 

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The Future of Connection for Women

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Tanisha Wallace Porath

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