I’ve never been a big fan of change. In fact, I would say I actively dislike it. Whether it was moving up a year at school, changing jobs, other people changing their lives without my express permission – how very dare they? – change always made me feel a bit, well, squirmy inside. Even if there were bigger and brighter things ahead, I’ve always been a “better the devil you know” kind of girl. I mean, they call it a comfort zone for a reason – and I’d lined mine with enough metaphorical pillows and blankets to be comfortable there for years.
But a few months ago, I found myself watching the series finale of Once Upon a Time. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a TV show about fairy tale characters who find themselves cursed into living in our world. At least, that’s how it starts, and it starts very well. However, the common problem to which a lot of TV shows fall prey is the very nature of dragging a story out over multiple seasons of 23 episodes each time; the writers have to move the plot along as slowly as possible. That’s fine, if you can keep coming up with new and original plot twists and character developments, but Once Upon a Time’s story suffered a plot twist from which it could not recover – the actors’ contracts ran out.
At the end of season six, many of the main cast found themselves at the end of their contract, and they decided against renewing for season seven. Had the writers decided to accept this as the end of the season, tie up the story and move on to pastures new, the audience would have had a neat and satisfying series finale, through which all their favourite characters received the proper send-off they deserved. Instead, the story was dragged into season seven, loaded with new characters no one cared about, and many fans stopped watching the show anyway – its time was up.
And change is very much like a television series – there’s only so much of one story you can tell. There’s only so much you can do and learn and develop before things grow stagnant and you start to lose interest. There’s only so long before you get a bit sick of the same old sights and sounds and need a new view – at least for a bit of a break. But still we stay in one place because it’s comfortable and we like it or we don’t really like it but we don’t know what’s up ahead. As Pumbaa gets it so right, and so wrong, in The Lion King, you put your behind in your past, instead of putting the past behind you.
But this world wasn’t created to stand still; change is built into everything. Nature evolves and renews. Seasons move from spring to summer to autumn to winter and on and on it goes. And you’ll notice that the most contented human beings are those that accept and move in time with these rhythms; the people who happily transition from their summer Pimms to pumpkin lattes to hot chocolate to…whatever people drink in Spring…These aren’t the people whinging about the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, wishing each season away as soon as it starts, because they’re rolling with the punches and grabbing their sun cream or their wellies as appropriate.
Human beings aren’t designed to stay in one place. You aren’t the person you were 10 years ago, and will be different again in 10 years’ time. Very few people stay in the same jobs, the same friendships, the same interests their whole lives, because all of those things have seasons and that’s OK. Change doesn’t mean one thing ending and another one beginning; it means one season is merging into another. You’re not forgetting the old story and starting a new one; you’re just turning the page onto a new chapter, standing firm on the foundation of all that’s gone before.
One TV show that does get this concept is Doctor Who. If you’re a fan of the show you’ll have noticed a pattern; The Doctor regenerates, goes off on adventures, has a nice relationship with the companion, and then things get a bit stale. The stories start to seem similar; he goes on about his past a bit too often, the actors and the writers start phoning it in because they’ve been on the job too long…but then The Doctor regenerates again. The new actor puts their own spin on the character. The new writing team has fresh ideas for adventures. It’s the same show, the same character, the same life we’re watching, but he – or, I should now say, she – has a whole new lease on it.
Right now, I’m going through more changes at once than I’ve ever been through before. I’m leaving a job and starting a new one (not this one, I hasten to add). I’ve just got a puppy which, I’ve found, disrupts your life quite substantially. And my best friend just had a baby, which is possibly a bigger change to her life than mine…but I’m leaving behind a season that I’ve really loved – working with people who have become some of my best friends, a puppy-free life of being to go out when I want and not have something chewing my jumpers, a season where my friends were definitely not adult enough to be parents! I should be panicking a little bit right now, and some days I am, but instead I’m making a choice.
I’m choosing to see this as a new season, a new chapter, full of possibilities rather than things to fear. I’m choosing to dive in to the rhythms of my life and move forward, otherwise I’ll just get frustrated with standing still. I’m choosing not to hold on to the familiar, like a tired TV show, but take charge of the remote and begin a new story. I’m choosing to celebrate the season I’ve just been in, to cherish the memories and friends I’ve made along the way, but not letting the fear of change keep me from changing. In fact, I’m not going to call this “changing” at all – I’m regenerating. Now, let the new adventure begin.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti