Monday, January 18, 2021

Column: Change is an essential ingredient in the recipe for growth

November 30, 2020
<p>Culture reporter Sara Tidwell, circa 2003, standing behind the banister of her new home, one hand clutched to the wood and one hand clutched to a teddy bear. Photo courtesy of Craig Tidwell.</p>

Culture reporter Sara Tidwell, circa 2003, standing behind the banister of her new home, one hand clutched to the wood and one hand clutched to a teddy bear. Photo courtesy of Craig Tidwell.

My family is moving out of my childhood home and into a new, small Michigan city. My dad's been commuting three or so hours to and from his job as the chief operating officer of a credit union every single day since the start of the year; While he sees my brother quite often, he's tired of missing out on watching my two sisters, the last two birds in the nest, grow up and make their way through high school. So, they're uprooting and embracing change.

My mom asked me to come home today, to the old house, and help her gather the last of our things to head out on Wednesday for good.

"The both of us, we can sit in the furniture-less living room and cry, reminisce on memories," she had texted me.

I smiled to myself, but if I'm being real, part of me wondered: What will I miss?

While the connection to my childhood home, the one that was built specifically for my family of six in 2003, will forever remain strong, the Tidwells have leveled up.

I've been moved out for three years now, besides winter and summer breaks from school, and I live in my own apartment in the East Lansing area. I have embraced a full adult life, whether I was ready or not, whether I like it or not.

I changed.

I'm no longer the tiny girl in the puffy pink jacket with bangs and a small teddy bear named Hope.

(I'm now the still significantly small girl who doesn't wear jackets with bangs and a slightly bigger teddy bear named Ally.)

I have noticed other things that have changed in myself as well. Whenever someone used to ask my what my hobbies or favorite things were, I'd shrug. Not anymore. I used to be the third friend who walked behind the other two on the sidewalk that was too small. Not anymore. I used to be the quiet girl that held in my opinions and thoughts in fear of feeling annoying. Not anymore.

Change has the duality that allows it to be a learning process and a pivotal moment in your life. Change can be good, bad or both. And while it's scary, it's inevitable in this walk of life.

Things are going to be different in coming months and I can't tell if I'm excited, scared, or both.

***

The election was just over three weeks ago.

The incumbent President Donald Trump and incumbent Vice President Mike Pence were voted out of office and just this week began the formal transition of administrations. They will be replaced with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

But, some of the country refuses to embrace this change easily.

As lawsuits and claims of voter fraud add up, we have begun seeing riots, or "MAGA Marches," started by militia groups like The Proud Boys break loose across several cities and states, including Lansing.

"We elected who we are going to work with and hold accountable, not our saviors. The work and activism must continue no matter what," Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.

Human rights, whether for people of color, for women, for the LGBTQ community, for immigrants, hang in the balance. We're all holding our breaths for the best, but there is hope that I can already see.

We are in the midst of a pandemic. COVID-19 has shown no signs of slowing down and several states are peaking. But, for once this year, a little good news has shined through; Vaccines are becoming successful and may soon make their way to the public.

So, as we work our way through uncharted experiences, as we continue to fight COVID-19 and prepare for this presidential transition we must remember: Every time one door is closed, several more open.

With the door to Trump's presidency closing, a chapter in American history (might I say, a very long chapter that could've come out of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events") closes with it and now, more than ever, we have our shot at real, tangible change.

Everything we are going through, alone and as a collective, is shaping us, preparing us for what's to come. For what is here; They say a Phoenix rises from the ashes.

So, at our lowest, we must rise. We must learn to love change like a partner and take advantage of it.

***

I remember when I was younger, in my old home, and Avatar: The Last Airbender had been first released on Nickelodeon. I was in kindergarten and at the time, I was merely fascinated with the fact that these characters were bending elements of the Earth as if they were weapons, or shields.

I was so intent on becoming like them in that physical way that I pretended to bend water in the shower by tilting my arms and hands a certain way and I pretended I could move the flame of a candle if I concentrated hard enough.

It wasn't until I rewatched it over quarantine during its Netflix debut that my eyes opened to the deeper meaning behind the show: the wisdom, the life lessons, each character is specifically meant to teach you.

Zuko, the story's exiled Fire Nation prince, taught me how to set aside my pride and stand up for myself; Aang, the titular last airbender, taught me about patience and its importance; Katara taught me about healing and how it's best to forgive those who have done harm to you rather than let the ropes of wrath entangle you forever; Sokka taught me that it's okay to be different and that there will always be a place at the table for you somewhere, you just have to find it; and Toph taught me that by believing in myself, anything is possible.

As I move out of my childhood home, the nostalgia from the show continued to bring me back to the house, to my memories. I could've sat infront of that TV for hours, days even, just so I wouldn't have to leave my home so soon.

But, as leaves turn, change is inevitable; It's all a matter of how we react.

I wish I could put all of my favorite lines in here, but I'll leave you with one from Aang that I think especially fits with the state of life as we know it:

"When we are at our lowest points, we are open to our greatest change."

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