I have a problem with change.
If something in my life is going to change, I need time to mull it over. I need to envision the change—along with every possible variable, both positive and negative, until I come to the conclusion that the change will ultimately be for the better. And, ideally, the change that’s being made should be MY IDEA.
I once arrived at my old job at an art gallery to find that the sales desk had been moved from one side of the main space to the other. It had been near the windows that faced the street, where I could sit at the desk and look out at the world going by: happy tourists, the grumpy postman who I could usually make smile, kids on skateboards, and even the occasional moose.
The desk was good by the windows. I liked it there.
When I came in and saw that the desk had been relocated to the west wall near the storage room, I nearly hyperventilated. I just couldn’t get my mind around how I would function with the new set-up. However, as the day went on, I adjusted. Yes, I missed sitting near the window, but I quickly realized that the new location was better. If I had a customer at the desk and I needed to step into the storage room to find something or giftwrap something or take a deep calming breath because the customer was being difficult, I didn’t have to walk across the room to get there; I just had to take two steps. It turned out to be a really good change.
I hadn’t had time to think it through before it happened, and perhaps that was actually a good thing.
I recently had to make a change—not a big life altering change—no, I just had to get a new cellphone. This was a change I did have time to think about it before it happened. And I tortured myself over it.
I’d had my Galaxy S4 for about 4 years. It was my first smartphone. I swaddled it in a neon green Otterbox, which protected it and made it easy to find. I loaded it with photos and text conversations and my favorite game, Spelltower (which as guilty pleasures go, is not that bad because it keeps my brain sharp—at least that’s what I keep telling myself). I bonded with that phone and as newer models came out I saw no reason to upgrade.
But then it started to misbehave. Texts were taking forever to go through. Applications were mysteriously turning themselves on and running up my data usage. I could hear the death knell of my S4 but I held tight to it like waterlogged hands clinging to a life raft. I didn’t want a new phone! I didn’t want to lose all my texts and I didn’t want to have to transfer all my photos to my laptop, and I didn’t want to lose my Spelltower stats (I liked seeing my high score and my best word, Quixotic, displayed when I powered up the game, it made me feel like a winner!).
But the phone kept getting worse, so I finally forced myself to buy a replacement. I didn’t buy the latest version, the S8, because I don’t think a phone should cost $725—no matter how many installments it’s divided into. Instead I went on eBay and found a modestly priced, brand new S5.
And it sat on the dining room table for three weeks.
I kept eyeing the phone sitting there. Contemplating the change, I kept imagining the worst: losing all my fun stuff and all my precious texts with my daughters and my husband. And I imagined fumbling with updated features I wouldn’t know how to use.
When Bill finally asked me why I’d bought a new phone if I was never going to use it, I knew he had a point. I was being childish. I walked to the cell phone store and asked for help.
In fifteen minutes everything was transferred from my old phone to my new one, with the exception of my text messages. The salesperson said if I deleted all the text streams I didn’t need, I could come back another day and she’d transfer the ones I wanted to save. I didn’t know they could do that! My photos were there, my contacts were there, too. The learning curve I had been worried about was nonexistent because my new phone works almost exactly like my old one; I was up and running in no time. The new phone has fun “bells and whistles” the old one didn’t have and I’m really enjoying them. Although I lost my Spelltower stats, the game seems to run better on my new phone, and I’ve already beaten my old high score!
I should have done this sooner.
Why is it that I obsess over seemingly small changes?
Sometimes I worry that I have control issues. And maybe I do.
Or maybe this is just my way of dealing with the fact that there are huge changes taking place all around me—in the world, in the US, locally, and even in my family—changes over which I have absolutely no control. Maybe obsessing over small changes, ones that I do hold some sway over, helps me feel empowered. Maybe it brings a sense of balance to my universe.
Maybe it is nothing more than a natural coping mechanism.
And maybe, just maybe, it is actually healthy.
Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia via Unsplash