change, questioning & uncertainty

Change can, and often is, challenging on many levels. Some of the ways we can react to it include acceptance, understanding, adaption and various variants of fear or uncertainty. Change can provide for interesting, exciting and challenging times. Whilst not always positive, I try to embrace and be open to change — often challenging myself specifically in regards to not getting too settled. We often should force ourself to step outside our comfort zones and be open to change, as to not do so can have many negative implications. Perhaps some of the most cogent examples include how unconscious racism (colonialism) & sexism can become so entrenched that attempts to constructively expose/criticise are often met with dismissals or denials. Fiona Nicoll (2004) provides an interesting example, and take on it, in ‘“Are you calling me a racist?”: Teaching critical whiteness theory in indigenous sovereignty’. How (white) people respond and relate to the concept of reconciliation also provides interesting examples: the form of reconciliaiton — to’ or ‘with’ (Nicoll 1993); reconciliation on whose terms? (Gelder 2000) or notions of practical reconciliation (Haggis and Scheech 2004)

In my current predicament(s), I have tried to be aware of the implications of getting comfortable and how this can create a barrier to opportunities and change. There is somewhere I really want to return to and live, though do not currently have the means. As an interim, I would like to live closer to many of my friends — which has twofold implications. The first is economic. It will cost me much more to live near friends as an interim measure, further delaying the possibility of returning to where I really want to live. The second is related to getting comfortable. If I live near my friends, I know I will get more comfortable and grounded. This is far from a negative (rather, having many positives). It does have its implications…

It is when we get settled or comfortable that we become resistant to change, resistant to contemplating change, and often unable to see the potential benefits and opportunities that change can foster and create. With regard to the latter, the change might bring about significant increases in happiness and other pleasures in life, yet the uncomfortableness of change invokes questionings and deferences to the unsettling aspects. In essence, when we are comfortable, we often do not consider change (not necessarily a bad thing).

I have always tried to force myself to be open to change, to embrace the uncertainties. Some might say it leads to numerous opportunities and adventures. In my current predicament, I want to live closer to friends though am concerned about the impacts of getting comfortable again. I know how challenging change can be, having relocated to four different cities in the past without knowing anyone (three of these were international moves). I am little concerned that getting comfortable may lead to barriers (some unconscious, some swept aside so as not to address) to committing to change when the opportunity finally arises. I guess I am worried that I will get comfortable enough the be more resistant to change.

A complicating factor in this is time. Do we become more complacent over time, or does time act to foster uncertainty. Situations, people and places always change over time — as anyone who has travelled and returned ‘home’ will note. Does time further uncomfortableness? Is missing out on experiencing something(s) enough to keep ones plans strong enough to counter time and resistance to change, accepting uncertainty?

We often aspire to get comfortable again. It is not a negative, though it can have negative implications. I guess one of my questions is, can we get too comfortable in that it prevents us from experiencing? How much is our desire for comfortableness a response/reaction to the mediation of our lives that is beyond our control (commodification, exploitation, socialisation)?

Questioning (internal conflict) is good though it is also something that can invoke uncertainty. Can these be cyclic with questioning and uncertainty feeding off of each other. At this point in time, I can see the potential and may be experiencing it.

I guess my current uncertainty is at least a sign that I am questioning…

Gelder, K. 2000. ‘The Imaginary Eco-(Pre) Historian: Peter Read’s Belonging as a Postcolonial ‘Symptom”, Australian Humanities Review. 19. Retrieved December 3, 2006, from <http://www.australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-September-2000/gelder.html>

Haggis, J. & Scheech, S. 2004. Thoughts on a politics of whiteness in a (never quite post) colonial country: abolitionism, essentialism and incommensurability, in A. Moreton-Robinson (ed.) Whitening Race: essays in Social and cultural criticism,
Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press: 48-58.

Nicoll, F. 2004. ‘”Are you calling me a racist?”: Teaching critical whiteness theory in indigenous sovereignty’, borderlands e-journal. 3(2). Retrieved November 16, 2005, from <http://www.borderlands.net.au/vol3no2_2004/nicoll_teaching.htm>

One thought on “change, questioning & uncertainty

  1. I have put a lot of thought into this general topic over the past 2 or 3 years. I’ll have lived in my current city for 3 years at the beginning of August, and that will be the first time in over a decade that I’ll have lived in one place for more than 3 years. Only once since leaving “home” for college have I lived somewhere more than 3 years (if you count the time I was away for college as continuous, despite not usually staying summers, and doing a semester abroad, and 3 months out of country after graduation before returning for 9 months…) and that was just 5 years.

    I’ve found it harder and harder to put down roots. I don’t make an effort anymore, arriving in a place with an expectation that it will be temporary. I don’t know what to think of this anymore, but I have been thinking about it, trying to look deeper.

    And one thing that seems clear to me, based on my own experiences and interactions with others who have roots that go deeper than I can personally imagine…by picking up and moving so often, I’ve undoubtedly prevented myself from experiencing more than a superficial “knowing” of the area I live temporarily in. From seasons to local plants to people and the changing urban landscape to “normal” weather, I exist perpetually as a newcomer who is only marginally aware of some of the areas deeper issues. What I do know is filtered through others rather than gained through experience.

    Maybe this makes sense for me – I have a tendency to be a generalist, not a specialist, and so surveying different places makes some sense. Yet I have a certain envy for people with real roots.

    I think it is possible to be too willing to jump at every chance for change, just as the reverse is true. We need some kind of balance.

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