2013 was one of the most intense and incredible years of my life. Over the course of a year, I became a mother, a homeowner, I completed graduate school, and my husband and I each started new jobs. I discovered the Enneagram and Brené Brown, both of which taught me things that changed my worldview and refined my identity.
At the very beginning of the very first domino that set us on a course of a year of change, I had dinner with a beloved grad school professor. I was breaking the news to her that I would be moving and finishing my degree remotely. As I finished telling her the story of why we were moving, she beamed at me and said, “I am so excited for you! You are going through a paradigm shift! It happens every seven years, you’ll see.”
I’m not sure where she adopted the idea that we go through a paradigm shift every seven years, but there’s some scientific truth in her claim. Each hour of every day, our cells are dying and being born. Every seven years, each cell in your body has died and has been replaced with a new cell at least once, so in a very real sense, you are an entirely new person every seven years.
Seven years later, I’m experiencing another shift, but this time the shift feels more internal than external, unlike my experience seven years ago. This time, I’m sorting through my long-held beliefs, opinions, emotional baggage and my values and deciding what stays and goes. I’m assessing and changing the ways I want to care for my body, mind, spirit and soul. I’m reconsidering how I spend my time and asking what brings me value and what needs to be left behind. This work is hard, emotional work and I’m still in the process of refining, but it is clear to me that I am different, already, than I was before.
We were created as dynamic creatures, constantly growing, changing and being recreated. Yet, it doesn’t always feel that it’s acceptable to change in the world we live in. The permanence of the internet can make us feel like once we stake our ground, we can never move on. We define people by their failures, by one misstep. It feels safer to stay put. The expectations of others can deceive us into thinking our life can’t change. Yet, as we become new people inside these lives we’ve built for old versions of ourselves, it can begin to suffocate us.
There’s incredible beauty in the rediscovery of ourselves and the people we love as we are constantly becoming ourselves, particularly if we can embrace the constant change. I saw a photo of my nearly seven year old daughter today that snapped me into the realization that she’s no longer a “little girl,” but has fully stepped into “kid.” As I write this, I’m reflecting on this morning when she was primping and preening, styling her hair in different ways as she begins to discover that she is beautiful.
This new version of my daughter that doesn’t have even one cell of baby left in her being is a delight: she’s empathetic, she’s energetic, she’s silly, she’s tender, she’s passionate, she’s helpful. We can have real conversations about the world, she can articulate her emotions and she can understand things she never could before. Discovering this new person is a treasure. The worst thing I could do for her is to forget she’s completely new and impose an old paradigm upon her.
As our world changes, we also need to give ourselves permission to lay down old versions of ourselves - old beliefs, behaviors and opinions that don’t serve us. We can change our minds, because they’re changing already. We can believe things we didn’t believe before that our friends and family don’t agree with. We can grow and shift in our understanding of who we are, and who others are to us. We don’t have to stay put on land we staked out when we were someone else entirely.