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February 2, 2013

A Word of Advice: Change is a brilliant thing

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The Daily Star

---- — From the beginning of human history, we have come to be through adapting to our environment. So why do we all fear change when it hits our own personal lives? 

Whether in environment, lifestyle or social circle, change is more often than not approached reluctantly rather than adventurously. Change, whether it’s necessary or not, voluntary or shoved down your throat, is only as scary as we make it out to be, and more often than not, it’s for the better.

When we are born, we are welcomed into the world with nothing but the hair on our heads. We have no friends, no sense of home, and we can’t really even process what our names are. Everything from then on is a change in our state of mind. 

Our realities are introduced to us by society, our parents, our peers and our teachers. Since babies don’t have the mental capability to fear things they don’t yet understand, they don’t. They simply accept it. 

To young ones, the world is one big surprise, a wrapped gift of sorts. My question is, why do we let that attitude toward life fade?

Most of the time, we feel that we know who we are, or that we should know exactly who we are. Most people could tell you what they’re destined to do, where they think they’ll be in 20 years, and what their concrete identity is. 

While it’s important to be proud of who you are, people are clay from their first breath. Nothing beyond instinct is “hard-wired” into our brain — we’re adaptable right out of the gate! Life is so much more enjoyable when we accept that we’re always learning and developing around our surroundings, so why throw fits when they change?

Sometime change happens to things that had been almost concrete in our minds since our days of cognitive youth. Our best friends who we would play with on the swings; our hometowns; the dreams of being spaceman-popstar-surgeons; from our first days sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the alphabet rug in kindergarten, we had always had these in our heads as certainty. Eventually, a lot of these become crushed, to our disappointment. Friends change over the years when paths of life fork off; parents get new job opportunities that require a change of scenery; and we realize we aren’t quite fit to get three separate college degrees while chasing off the adoring space-fans we had dreamed of in our childhoods. This can be good for us, though.

When we get older, we get introduced to multitudes of new opportunities and new dangers. From being shipped off to boarding school to becoming addicted to drugs, we commonly just lose common ground with our friends, or worse, they become a danger to our well-being and success. 

When friends begin to drag you down with their negativity or bad habits, they become what some call “toxic friends.” If friends are beyond a point of help or have repeatedly made attempts to lower your spirits, it’s best to leave them and find even better friends. Trust me when I say that there are people out there who will be positive pushes in your endeavors — you just have to seek them out. While we may still be stuck in our school district, and we may exist in social fishbowls before we swim with “all of the fish in the sea,” there is always more than what you have known to explore within it, trust me.

When the world changes, it is like a brand new area to explore is opened to us. That’s why I love life — not even outer space is the final frontier, because people always have new places, people and lifestyles to explore for ourselves. 

Whether you decide to marvel at the new world around you or hide from it is your choice, but I assure you that by giving it a chance, and taking it all in like a child, you’ll find new things to love. Life is an adventure. If you’re preoccupied looking backward, you’ll never see the beauty right in front of you.

Austin Czechowski is a sophomore at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at adviceaustin@gmail.com, or send him a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.