Change is hard. There comes a point in our lives where we are faced with some of the most difficult decisions, and many of us would rather take the easy route than risk failure.
However, in order to live life to our fullest potential, at some point we have to learn that change is yes, terrifying, but immensely important.
In my first weeks of University, one of my professors gave me a huge wake up call. I had just moved to a new city, I was living on my own, and I had left behind everything in my life that I was comfortable with. This was perhaps, the first time in my life where I had felt entirely alone. I was terrified.
Then in one of my first classes, the Professor stood at the front, and introduced Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Plato talks about prisoners in a cave who have been fixed in the same position their entire lives. They are facing a wall watching the shadows of the puppeteers that are projected on the cave wall, from the light of the fire behind them. This view is what they have grown to be comfortable with. This is their reality, and this is all that they have come to know.
Imagine one day a prisoner is unchained, and told to look behind him. He would see the fire and the real people, and the objects that create the shadows on the wall. He would discover that all that he had become comfortable with was nothing but an illusion, and therefore a false reality.
Then imagine he is taken outside the cave, to see the sun and the entirety of the world. His eyes would burn and he’d go in to an overwhelming state of shock to discover that the shadows on the wall were merely a distraction from reality. Once accepting what he has discovered, the prisoner would reach a state of enlightenment that he has been sheltered from his whole life. When returning to the other prisoners, they would assume he has ruined his eyes when he is unable to see the shadows on the cave wall as clearly as before. The other prisoners would rather stay where they are comfortable and where they understand their surroundings. They would rather stay confined in their own simple realities, rather than taking a risk to discover more.
This idea of sticking to what we are comfortable with, is exactly what restricts us from living life fully. Had I chosen to attend a school closer to home, maybe I would have been more comfortable, but I never would have learned the lessons that came along with such a big change.
This change was good. Although I may be lost in the moment, and fearful of the future, I am one step closer to becoming the best person I can be. My hand has been held since day one, and suddenly I’m thrown into a whirlwind of aloneness. I make all my decisions now. There’s no one to wake me up if my alarm doesn’t go off, there’s no one to cook me dinner or drive me to school. I’m alone. I’m surrounded by new. New friends, new school, new city, new me. Up until now, I have been sheltered in the cave of the things that I am comfortable with, and now I have been unchained and brought outside. My eyes have not yet adjusted, but I am ready to see the truth.
It’s scary and difficult and at times overwhelming. I have to reach out for help because help isn’t handed to me anymore. I spent 90% of the time on my own and that’s okay, because that’s 90% more time to develop myself and work towards the future that I want to have. Each new chapter in our lives teaches us lessons that make us stronger. What a waste of a life it is to be lived easily. It is time to break down the walls in our minds that restrict us from change. They may be comforting and stable, but they are holding us back from reaching our full potential. It is these walls that will destroy us.
It is okay to be frightened by the unknown. Perhaps we make a decision that destroys us. But even then, we will emerge from our failures stronger and wiser that we ever would have been, had we decided to spend our lives staring at the shadows on the wall.