AreteAdvice Volume 4: The Most Simplest and Most Difficult Question

Question: Can I change?

No.

“I” has been a letter of the alphabet for too long now and most of our language is built on its utility and usefulness. We ain’t changing.

But if you were talking about “I” as in you, yes, you can change. But you have to make two concessions:

  1. It WILL NOT happen right away

Statistics say it takes around 90 days to form a new habit. I’m bad with math, and even worse at gathering statistics, so let’s throw out the numbers. Go with something simpler. Imagine if you ate pizza every day of your life. Every day. One of three reactions will happen:

You’re getting sick of pizza.

You are ambivalent towards pizza, but you will still eat it just cause.

You love pizza unconditionally.

One day, your doctor comes along and says, “Dude. Stop. You’re not a Ninja Turtle.” So now I pose the following: who has it easiest? The person who hates pizza? The person who is ambivalent? Or the person who loves pizza unconditionally? Answer: d. depends on the body. Mentally, you can be ready to change all you want, but if your body fights you, it’s going to be difficult. This is the struggle for people trying to lose weight, trying to kick a bad habit or even watch Netflix. Your body has settled into a comfortable routine. One that it knows will keep you safe and at the least content. Altering that routine drastically is unlikely to have a clean result.

This is not to say it can’t happen. You can kick pepperoni to the curb! Just stop expecting it to happen overnight. It’s not realistic. Think about every training montage you’ve ever seen. Even though they are all sped up (and usually underscored with awesome music), the characters take time to get it down. They don’t start day 2 of their karate training with mastery, they practice each step over and over again until their body accepts it as normal. That’s the secret to change-boring repeititon. If you doubt it works, think about what you’d like to change about yourself. Didn’t you get there through mind-numbing repetition? Think about it before you order dominos.

  1. You can’t change everything

Robocop.

Go watch that and then come back to this section if you haven’t already.

If you are at work or do not have access to Robcop (both sad things), I’ll give you the quick breakdown. Man gets shot. Man gets robo parts to replace injured body. Man shoots back. Throughout the movie, we see the man struggle with his new parts and how even the little things in life are different with his new body. But underneath it all, there’s still the human side that has remained unaltered.

I doubt that you’re a person who wants to radically change every aspect of who you are. But if that’s what you’re going for, I honestly can’t say that I’ve seen that work. My real life example:

As a kid, I was overweight. Ate too much, exercised too little. For years and years, that was a core part of me and my identity. Then a grew a little (Not too much, trust me), metabolism decided to work and I even started to be more of a physical person. Everything evened out…but I haven’t lost that aspect of me.

To this day, as crazy as it may sound, I still sometimes feel like I am carrying that weight. The insecurity and self-doubt from that time still hang around. Yes, I’m tons more confident than I used to be. But will I ever be truly able to change the small part of me that never thought he’d look like everyone else? I’m not sure.

This is not to be pessimistic about change. You’re going to keep some good parts of yourself too! I still have my encyclopedic knowledge of all the Power Rangers seasons, can recite the plot to at least 10 Goosebumps books and the controls to Mario kart are basically like breathing to me. That’s just who I am, and will always be. Sure, all those things I mentioned are not nearly as important to me as they seemed back then, but they still are important. Without those aspects, I wouldn’t be changing myself. I’d become someone completely different.

So yes, go ahead and change. It’s going to take some time, and you won’t change everything. But I promise one thing. Even you at least make an attempt, an honest, heartfelt attempt, and that attempt to change fails:

You’ll find that you already have.

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