How Can People Change?

Sorry it’s late guys! Yesterday was pretty rough, and it was one of those times when the things you want to escape follow you into sleep. Not cool. But here it is…the “Life” themed post of the week!

Question #108. It’s deep.
My method of determining what to write about comes from a list of almost 200 questions about anything from football to politics to emotional breakdowns to past memories to celebrities. And today I drew a “10” and an “8” from crumpled pieces of post-it note swished around in an empty Altoid can. Thus…
“How Can People Change?”
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Sometimes, change seems like the picture–blue skies, bold white clouds, and shafts of sunlight breaking around the edge of a road sign. Sometimes the sign reads “Engagement” or “New Job” or “Relocation” or “Stability” or just a regular day-in-day-out purpose to make some part of your life better. Good things. Out with the old, in with the new. It means that whatever is bothering you about the past is about to be left farther behind, and whatever tempts you about the future is that much closer.
But…
Unfortunately, circumstantial changes are often much better than people changes.
Sure, sometimes when people change…it’s actually nice. But alot of times we end up saying things like…

  • “I don’t even know who he is anymore. We used to go out all the time…now he’s texting someone every time I see him. He’s just…changed.”
  • “She used to be so full of life…but the cancer took everything. She’s different.”
  • “What happened to you?! Are you hiding something from me?! I know there’s something…you’ve changed!

People tend to describe change in terms of “then” and “now.” To find a break in the graph, you have to measure its path over long periods of time. Sometimes the line drops fast and other times it’s a slow decrease from 100 to 10. But it always, always changes. Just like people do.
And when people change, their relationship with you will change as well.
That is why it’s important to understand how it happens, how they change, because not only will you be able to understand them better, but you might understand yourself a little better too. Because, admit it or not, you change too.
Here we go…

#1. Sometimes people don’t change, but circumstances do.
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Moving. Job Change. Death in the Family. New Priorities.
All of the above, and many more, create drastic disturbances in a person’s life. Their time is affected–because they need to be with their dying grandmother, they can’t go out to coffee anymore; because of the new responsibilities with being assistant to the case worker, they come home tired every night and just flop into bed instead of into your arms. Their money is affected–maybe they got a raise and can now buy that Corvette Stingray you’ve been drooling over since sophomore year; maybe they have to scrimp and pinch and you’ve noticed that they’ve worn the same jean skirt and T-shirt to church three weeks in a row. Their choices are affected–they might choose a romantic night watching Netflix with their gf instead of heading to the skate park with you; or…that might be reversed.
In The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky puts it simply–“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
He’s right. Life doesn’t stop. Circumstances change. People keep moving. Some will fall behind you, others will move ahead of you. Just be careful that when you see circumstances change, you don’t automatically assume the people are different. They may be the same, but circumstances may have given them different priorities. Just because their time, money, and choices are effecting a change doesn’t mean that they are not the same person that you’ve always cared about. Their life may have changed around them, but as Jackie Chan said, they aren’t letting the circumstances change who they are. Don’t let THEIR circumstances change YOU either.

#2. Sometimes Circumstances Change People.
The circumstances in #1…yeah, sometimes those things actually change the PEOPLE that are affected by them. Especially if the circumstance is painful or scarring. Usually when circumstances change people, the result is bad. Worse than before.
Remember Toy Story? In the first one, Woody got uber-jealous of Buzz Lightyear for stealing his man, and eventually got so deranged that he knocked the space ranger out of the window with a remote control car. He thought Andy had changed. But it turned out that the circumstances of the little bedroom were just rotating away from a cowboy-focus. In light of his “world” falling apart, Woody changed. HeΒ  became jealous, vengeful, and a follower instead of a leader. Not only did his circumstances change, but he did as well.
This is totally a time for best friends to enter the scene. Really, those are the only people who stick with it even when the person they first enjoyed being around completely flips the coin. They may have started out happy and carefree, and now they’re depressed and philosophical. It may be because of a family death or a break-up. But you can watch the circumstance gnaw at the person and wear down their edges until they are nothing like the one you once knew. It’s hard when people change. It’s even harder not to resent the circumstances that made it happen.

#3. Sometimes People Change Regardless of Circumstances.

This is the hardest one for best friends to swallow. Particularly because there seems to be no reason for that person to do a 180 and start cycling away from you. There is no circumstance to blame. And then the awful truth…maybe they really are different. Not because they are damaged by a situation, but because they have CHOSEN to be different. It could be an obsession with weight loss, a determination to fulfill goals, a new-found independence, a desire for adventure that doesn’t include you, or a new choice in relationships.
It’s a great time to spot fake friends or gf/bfs. It’s also a great time to decide if you are sticking with this changed person or if it’s time to hit the road. Decisions, decisions….
When circumstances change people, the result is usually painful and bad. But when people just change, the result is usually good. At least from their point of view. They are trying to better themself, or make a positive life change.
It hurts to find out you may not be included in their plan.

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#4 Sometimes, People DON’T change!
πŸ˜€
The happy one!
Ever called a friend on the phone, one that you haven’t talked to in like eight months. You wait while it rings, once, twice, three times. You wonder if they will remember the things you used to do together, that one time in the restaurant where that waitress did–“Hello?”
And at first you hear their voice and think they sound older, or wiser, or husky like they have a cold or smoked to much. But then, as you talk to them, it’s plain to see that nothing has changed. They are who they were. You are who you were. And you’re still friends.
It’s nice, isn’t it?
At the core, people are something. And that something remains whether their life changes, or they are changed by circumstances, or they change themselves. There is that fragment, like a fingerprint, that is their identity…that will always be them. It can’t change. It won’t change. It may appear to change.
But at the core, it’s still them.

#5. Sometimes, we try to change people.
Not much to say on this one. But for the control freaks out there, the wounded, the manipulative, the yous and mes who think that it’s our responsibility to make that person into the image in our head. Chill. Stop saying, “You’ve changed.” Or running over and over in your mind how their change is stabbing you in the gut, figuratively speaking. Or trying to force them to transform.
You can’t change people. And if you could, it wouldn’t be in their best interest. It would be in yours.

youve-changed

Not altogether true, but close enough.
Hope you liked this. It was rather fun to write, and I hope it’s fun to read too.
My next post will be a God one, and I drew topic #70: “Judging Others”
This should be interesting.
πŸ˜‰

 

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