There is a saying—I think originating with American author and humorist Mark Twain—that the only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper. As my wife and I are up to our eyeballs in diaper-changing with our newborn, I can say that my daughter embraces change wholeheartedly. But for most people, that is certainly not the case. Myself included. We tend to fear change. And if it is not fear, it can be avoidance or reluctance: it is uncertainty of the unknown that causes feelings of anxiety.
Because uncertainty can be a risk. Uncertainty can be a threat. Uncertainty can be dangerous
As a result, many of us feel safer in what we are more comfortable with: it is what we know. We take a level of comfort in the routine, and from that we also gain structure and safety. That is likely why we don’t make changes even when we know we have to, even when we will be better off for it. Moreover, certainty and stability gives us knowledge which can give us a sense of control over our environment or over our circumstances. Change can also cause us to engage in introspection and reflection, which we might not be open to. This also makes change seem less attractive.
But as the school year comes in for a landing, every single one of us is faced with change for the upcoming year. The seniors are moving onwards and upwards. John Champe will only have grades 10 through 12 next year. Rising freshmen will be at Willard but will still have a foot in Champe. Returning students will face new challenges, new classes, and new teachers. I will be leaving to open a new school, and Champe will have its next principal named in a few weeks. And these are the changes that we know about: change is constant. We will of course be confronted with a myriad of other changes that will challenge and test us—they are just unseen and knowable, hiding in the shadow of the future.
All of this can be unnerving, but as we look to next year—or even tomorrow—it’s important to keep in mind and approach these changes as amazing opportunities. While that might not mitigate our unease, how we perceive our changes can determine how effectively we adapt to them. And so one of the last things I want to convey before we all go our separate ways is to emphasize how important our mindset, our beliefs, and our behaviors are each and every day, especially in the face of change. These are life-lessons that are important at 16 as well as at 60. We might struggle with them, but ultimately these lesson help us to continue to grow and help to shape us. So whether you are moving to Blacksburg, signing up for your first AP class, or preparing your resume, I wish you the best of luck as you embrace these changes and navigate your course.