Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Reflections on Change

Today I sit in my new cubicle, in my new building at work. Our entire business group, once spread over several buildings, has moved into a cluster of three, on the opposite end of campus as my previous one.

The old building was uglier than heck. Yellow walls, yellow cubicles, reminiscent of mustard or baby poop, take your pick. But even the most aesthetically unpleasing environment can grow on a person after a while. After 4 1/2 years in the same building, in the same thin-walled, puke-yellow cube, it felt almost like home.

My new cube is bigger, much bigger. More room for all my junk. A nicer green/gray combination. But it doesn't feel like home yet. Maybe it will when I unpack all my stuffed animals, slinkies, wall hangings, trinkets, flags and pictures. I couldn't take the stickers with me. They were stuck to the cabinet on the old cube. Whoever is moving in there will have an interesting surprise. :)

As you may have noticed, there are now entries in this blog dating back to September, 2000. Over the past few weeks, I have collected all the email newsletters I sent to my friends and family shortly after our historic relocation from Toronto to the San Francisco Bay Area. I have posted these letters and pictures here to tell a story that, until now, was only told to a select few.

Reading through those entries has made me realize how much I have grown, changed and matured in the last 4 1/2 years. I barely recognize the wide-eyed, fearful, yet optimistic person who boarded the plane with Tiger in a carrying case and work visa in hand, into the depths of the unknown, a mysterious and exciting place we call Silicon Valley.

Moving my life to a different city, in a different country, was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. As you can glean from my early writings, there were numerous frustrations, growing pains and hassles. It took some time to get used to the personality, culture, values and quirks of this society.

I now believe it was one of the best things I've ever done.

Since moving here, my husband and I have learned what it means to be truly independent. I have always been a free spirit, an adventurer, a questioner, an explorer. However, the demands of a new job, an unfamiliar area, a very different culture and a complete physical separation from one's support network can easily become overwhelming. Even so, we persevered. With patience, lots of mistakes, and with acceptance of the new area's good and bad characteristics, a feeling of belonging - even pride - has emerged.

In my time here, I have undergone a number of changes, both physically and otherwise. I lost weight. I dyed my hair. I pierced the top of my left ear. I learned some Spanish. I volunteered for the Emergency Response Team. I became an EMT. I dedicated myself to a fitness program with a personal trainer in hopes of someday passing the firefighter test. I took up Karate, discovered a deep passion for the art, and have integrated its principles into my daily life. I branched out into a myriad of sports, classes and activities that have been the cornerstone of my non-work life. Through this, I have started to break down the chronic psychological barriers - the self-doubt, the uncertainty, the large walls built up around me in the past for self-protection - that have held me back from doing all that I wanted to do.

I am becoming the person I never thought I could be.

Self-esteem. Confidence. Self-assurance. Qualities that, until now, had only existed in me in their most basic forms; often overshadowed by the taunting and criticism of my youth, and the persistent voice in my head repeating those messages over and over throughout the years. Yet with this newfound life and independence, I have seized the reins of my future with every ounce of my passionate resolve. The inner strength that grew from the conquest of my weight, and from the multitude of opportunities I have been given to help others in need, have built up a tenacious core of self-reliance hitherto unknown to me.

I have always wanted to be the person who could start - and maintain - conversations with anyone in a room. I have always wanted to be the one to make others laugh. I have always wanted to be the one people would turn to when they needed help, advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to listen.

I am becoming the person I have always wanted to be.

While living in Toronto, working for the cable modem Internet provider, the thought never occurred to me that I could ever live or work anywhere else. I was fine where I was. I didn't need anything more. The very suggestion of a change, even up to a year before I moved, would have been met by complete denial, and likely, a disbelieving laugh.

And yet, here I am.

When one is inside one's own environment, it is difficult, if not impossible, to step out of that area of security and familiarity, and understand - truly understand - what the rest of the world has to offer. Sometimes, it takes a cataclysmic removal from that superficial comfort zone to set one on the path to knowing true happiness. Sometimes, it takes a complete overhaul of one's life to give that person the strength to break through the walls of self-doubt and to forge ahead in the pursuit of fulfillment. Sometimes, it takes a total rewriting of the inner scripts that have been imprinted in one's head for as long as one can remember, to allow that person to see, with clarity, the multitude of opportunities ahead.

Embracing the change, welcoming the opportunity for renewal, and relying on one's inner stores of fortitude and perseverance, are the keys to not only survival, but to personal growth, expansion of one's circle of influence, and the wholehearted, spirited pursuit of lofty goals once thought unattainable.

Every person who experiences a change, whether that change was desired or not, holds those keys in his or her hands. That person has the power to choose how they will react the situation at hand. They can choose to wallow in the "unfairness", to lament about how the old place was so much better the new place, to reject the positive qualities that the new place has to offer, and to pine and yearn for the familiarity and safety of the life left behind. Alternatively, they can choose to embrace, accept and welcome, then move forward with an open mind and an open heart; and in doing so, can reach out to others, build deep, meaningful relationships, and blaze a path to self-improvement.

When I stepped off the plane 4 1/2 years ago, cat and bags in tow, I chose the latter. And now, in this new green and gray cube, in this not-yet-familiar building, I make the very same choice.

Carpe Diem.


Blogger Matthew said...

After such an indept blog I have just three words for you...

"Change Is Good"

February 25, 2005 at 10:28:00 AM PST  

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