Change. In our constantly evolving society, it is impossible to escape it. We see it in constantly shifting political ideologies. We see it in our communities, schools, homes and businesses through technology advancing faster than we ever imagined. We see it within our personal relationships as we move across the lifespan and from one life phase to another. And, we hopefully see it within ourselves when we try to adopt a new habit.
But what happens when the changes are quite drastic, or even worse, could bring about unpredictable results? As a 21 year old college student, I’ve experienced a variety of large scale and small scale changes. For example, the political climate in the U.S. is quite different now than when I was born. On a more personal scale, I left behind a small rural community at 18 and moved to a city with more diversity than I’d encountered in my entire life time. And on an even smaller scale, I’ve seen relationships with friends from home and friends I’ve made here evolve—some got stronger, and some have faded a little.
Yet in spite of all of this change in the world and my life, I have not shied away from the unknown. Sure, there have been moments where I was unsure about what was around the corner. But, if I’ve learned anything in my time at Ohio State, it is this: It is so important to embrace the chaos that change can be. I’ve embraced chaos as president of my sorority, where our organization’s membership has doubled in size in less than 2 years (and is still growing). I’ve embraced chaos after informing my parents (who have lived in my hometown all their lives) that I was considering attending graduate school in another state. And, with aspirations for a career in Extension, I’ve embraced the organized chaos surrounding its efforts to figure out where we will take the organization in the coming years. It’s been organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless.
Through these experiences, I’ve realized that change is a natural part of our lives. Instead of fearing change, I’ve realized how freeing it can be to embrace it. For example, if, while leading my sorority, I’d held tightly to the status quo for fear of change, we’d still be stuck with a variety of outdated policies and procedures.
A little faith can help too. A little faith in the notion that trying something new is worth the effort, even if the results don’t go exactly as we might have anticipated. Although my parents were initially shocked at my idea of moving away, they have begun to warm up to the idea and are now very supportive. Again, we need to “embrace the chaos,” no matter how hard it may seem in its early phases.
As you encounter change in your personal and professional life, I hope that you will resist the tendency to stick to the status quo and allow yourself to have faith it will all work out. Change doesn’t have to be scary—it can actually be very exciting. And for even more excitement, why not consider how you could help someone else embrace their own chaos?
Mariah Stollar is a Student Assistant for the State CD Office. She is a senior at The Ohio State University, majoring in community leadership.