Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

It’s an age-old question: do people really change? You’ll hear plenty of people say the answer is ”no.” Those people, for lack of a better word, suck.

The correct answer is: some people change. The others stay miserable.

You’ve met these people. It tends to be more prevalent in older people, but anyone can have this attitude. Anyone over 80 can usually get away with this behavior, but I think it’s a cop out.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” people say.

Not true. You can teach anyone who wants to learn.

My grandmother is constantly changing her mind on things. Sure, her iPhone still scares her, but she went gluten free last year and is always trying new things to keep herself healthy. Basically, anything Dr. Oz recommends, she’ll try.

Then there are the grandmothers that are just old and angry; they hate everything and anyone who is different. Often, these grandmothers are old racists and everyone just excuses their behavior:

“That’s how they grew up. Those were the times.”

Well, these are the times now, and that is unacceptable. If you have a family member like this, it’s your responsibility to speak out, respectfully, against any hate speech. You can’t stop someone from being a racist, but you can stop them from spreading their propaganda. Eventually, that’s enough to bring some transformation in the world.

Smart, self-aware people change all of the time. They realize they’re not perfect and constantly strive to be better. This, inherently, brings change in a person.

I love where I work. Sure, there are a few curmudgeons in the bunch who are set in their ways, but, for the most part, everyone is trying new things and sharing new experiences around the water cooler. Not too long ago a few of us were talking about a parade that we had missed that day.

One of my coworkers said, “Oh well, maybe we’ll all go next year.”

I remembered we all promised the year before that we’d go to the parade together the next year. Obviously, we didn’t follow through and missed our chance again.

“Next year?” I exclaimed. “Who knows where we’ll all be next year. We could be different people by then!”

The two ladies, both in their 40s, looked at me then looked at each other, a bit puzzled.

“Of course we will be,” one said.

“Definitely. I’m a different person…just now. I felt the change. It just happened. I’m a different person!”

We all laughed, but I appreciated their reactions so much. It’s so great working with friends who are constantly ready to change their point of view and admit their way of thinking wasn’t necessarily right. Or at least, that way of thinking didn’t suit them right now, in the present.

I especially liked this because when I was younger, I remember adults used to tell me: “You change less when you get older.”

I couldn’t disagree more.

That might be true for people who are stuck in their lives and in their careers. For most happy people I’ve met, though, with every day they become more and more comfortable with themselves. They slowly start to shed their “persona” and actually become their true selves; everyone around them notices the change.

Personally, when I was younger, I was very set in my ways: I don’t wear lipstick. I won’t wear yellow. I can’t pull off wavy hair. And that was just in the looks department. I had all sorts of rules that I implemented to keep myself from trying anything new. In a way, I was probably holding myself back so I wouldn’t fail or look stupid.

Now, I try new things all of the time. And about 25 percent of the time, I fail and look stupid. The other 75 percent of the time, I surprise myself and open up new possibilities.

The older I get, the more I realize that even when change feels scary, there’s no use fighting it. And change isn’t just necessary—it’s exciting. It’s something to relish, not fear.

Also, I can totally rock lipstick.

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