Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

Major Changes: small survival guide. Gets long. Sort of aimed at teenage changes.

This probably won't be the last time I see people going through major changes. This rambling will probably appear, in altered form, when I publish.

Any seemingly minor change in surroundings, circumstances, or self-perception, as well as landmark experiences, can be the trigger of great, sometimes catastrophic, changes. While the trigger event may seem insignificant to an outsider, there is no telling what interesting events may unfold in an individual person as a result.

Someone going through extensive change is apt to feel out of control, and very bizarre about the whole thing. Whether it's a willing change or a change that's just happening or a change happening very much against one's will, it's still very weird to feel things that have been absolutely certain suddenly changing.

Figure out what the change is and why it's happening, if possible. Some changes are quite natural, and occur during the maturing process. Some changes are just weird.

If you don't know offhand what the change is, or why it's happening, be logical. If you don't like it, the worst thing you can do is panic. If you're already feeling out of control, a panic sends you more so. Unless you find that you operate better while panicking than while logically thinking things out, you're going to want to stay calm.

Figure out what made it happen. The trigger event may be known already, but it's often helpful to note associated events. List down any changes that have happened, even little ones. Have you started finding new interests? New friends? A new school? New job? Changes in family? A really powerful book, song, or movie? A sudden insight or realization? A dream?

If you're having trouble finding one key event, relax, and shift your focus away from trying to find the trigger event, and on documenting changes that you've recently experienced. You may find some unexpected ones in the list.

Even if you can't find a trigger event, start documenting things that have changed as a result of the thing that you feel is changing about you. It really helps the feeling of being out of control when one can look at all the changes, examine their effects, and see if one likes them or not.

As the result of an internal change, one may find oneself switching friends, switching interests, switching habits. Examine the differences between old interests and new interests. Why am I not interested in this stuff anymore? Why is the new stuff so much more attractive? Okay, so that one is boring. What about it makes it boring?

You may find, sometimes, that you cultivate the appearance of being interested in something, or disinterested in something, merely for the appearance. At sixteen, I proclaimed my profound disinterest in all of the books I'd enjoyed when younger, because they were kid stuff, and I was a grown-up now. At twenty-three, I'm attempting to re-build the collection of books that I loved when I was a kid, and still love now. Beware permanent change made for the sake of appearances, especially permanent change caused by a sudden and violent turn-around of personality.

If you fear your impulses, document them. That's what a journal like this is good for. An entry, public, protected, or private (I would recommend private, if it's an extensive change happening, and erratic impulses; entries can always be taken public later if you feel like sharing) with the sudden impulse and your feelings on it may get it out of your system without you having to trample all over it to stop it or having to go through with it. Some of your impulses may really scare you, if you see them written out later; if you're sufficiently weirded that you want a double-check, or to see if they're normal, consult a trusted friend or trained counselor. (Counselor, minister/priest/priestess, school counselor, school nurse, help line, psychiatrist, doctor...)

As always, if you feel you're in physical danger, such as being suicidal and ready to harm yourself, do call for help. In the States, calling 911 should get you someone who has been trained in dealing with emergencies, including suicide.

One small change can cause a cascade of others. I started liking science fiction. I made new friends through liking the same books. I was exposed to new ideas through the books, which changed my way of thinking about things, and my ways of dealing with problems. My friends influenced me. The books influenced me. My friends introduced me to new authors, new concepts. I had life-changing experiences as a result of the new things. Of course it cascaded.

Don't just document yourself once. You are a work in progress. Every little while, perform a self-assessment. You don't have to share it with anybody (though you may want to share it with your counselor if you are seeing one). If you do it privately, you may be more honest with yourself than if you do it and share it for everyone to see. If you want to make a version for everyone to see and a different, true, version to hide, go ahead, and in the private version, explain what you changed for the public version and why. Later, go back, do the whole thing again, and see what's changed between them. Assume a "Why?" for each "what, where, who, when, how" question.

Many good self-assessment tools are out there, spread around as memes. Some of them are more complete than others. Don't assume that you'll remember the "why" for every answer you gave. Explain to yourself. If going through a list is too much for you, take a break, talk to someone if it helps.

Some common things to record:
Am I rich, poor, somewhere in between?
Where do I live? Why do I live there? What do I think of it? Why?
Am I in any relationships? What kind? Who? What do I think of them? How do they treat me? How do I treat them? Consider this an essay question; back up your answers with details. What are the worst and best traits of each person in the relationship? How would I interact with them if we broke up? If we had never been together?
Who is my best friend? Why are they my best friend?
Who are my other friends? What do I think of them?
Who do I spend time with who aren't friends?
What's my favorite color? Why is it my favorite color?
What is my favorite kind of music to listen to? Why? What's my favorite artist or band?
What's my favorite art? Book? Poem? Radio show? TV show? Why?
What do I wear? (clothes, jewelry, makeup, hair) What am I wearing right now? What is my favorite outfit? Why?
What religion am I? Why?
What do I like to do with my spare time?
What do I look for in a friend?
Describe a typical day at school or work. Describe a typical day off. Day at home. Day out with friends. Vacation day.
What is my job? Why do I have that job? Why do I keep that job? What do I get out of that job? What does that job get from me?
What is my attitude towards love? Death? Sex? Children? (my own if applicable, the children of friends, the children of strangers) Marriage? Ecology? Economy? Politics? Abortion? Suicide? Welfare? Communism? Capitalism? Religion? Health? Exercise? Food? Weight/body image? Gender? Mass media? The current government? Why?
What do I think of myself? What's my best feature? Why? Worst feature, why? Am I a good person? A bad person? A neutral person? What makes me so?
What do I think of my body? What one thing would I keep the same no matter what? What thing would I change? Why?
What is going on in my mind? If I could change one thing about my mind, what would it be?
Do I have any known physical conditions, difficulties, illnesses? Temporary or permanent? How am I dealing with them? Do I have any suspected physical conditions? Do I have any feared physical conditions?
Do I have any known mental conditions, difficulties, illnesses? Temporary or permanent? Suspected? Feared?
Metaphysical? Known, suspected, feared?
What civil rights do I have? What am I free to do? What am I constrained from doing that I want to? Why? (Answers like "The government is a bunch of fascist monkeys" should probably be expounded on.)
What pets do I have?
What is my family like? Who is in it, and how do I feel about them?
What things are most important to me? What things are least important to me?
What was the most major change that happened to me in the last day, week, month, year, decade? What was the most major thing that happened to me since I last did this self-assessment?
Record anything you think important. Record some things you think are silly, record some things you take for granted. Add questions. Go into as much detail as you think is important. If you want, fill out the self-assessment as if you were at some point in your past. What were you like ten years ago?

Understanding oneself is one of the scariest things one can do. But doing so helps get a handle on change, and why it happens, and most importantly, what those changes are. Physical changes, such as the changes that come with age, may be weird to deal with, because we often have to deal with what we've got the best we can, but we often can describe exactly what is going on. Psychological changes are more elusive, but understanding them is the key to keeping them if they're good changes, or being able to discard them and go back to better attitudes if they're not.

Sometimes friends and family don't know how to deal with changes. They may or may not have gone through similar changes themselves. They may or may not like who you're changing into. Don't assume they know what's going on inside your head, even if you think you've been making it mind-bogglingly clear. Often, spelling it out for them will calm them down. If one is self-aware enough to give concrete reasons for change, influences that have caused re-examination of old assumptions, and the new evidence that's caused changes in old assumptions, they may chill out. Or they may not.

You have a right to be yourself. You don't necessarily have a right to break laws or create major disruptions. You have an obligation to fulfill contractual duties you've entered into; you have the right to yourself to re-examine any contracts you've entered into and see if you're still willing to fulfill those obligations under those terms and conditions. If you're obligated but unwilling, see if some form of renegotiation is possible.

Depending on your location and age, you may have a number of civil rights. Consider your freedoms there. I include civil rights with the section on change because much change happens to those underage, and still under parent/guardian supervision and control, subject to certain limitations under the law. Control of freedom of speech by a parent in requesting that certain words not be used in the household ("Fuck" at the dinner table, perhaps) is reasonable. Often rudeness is mistaken for freedom of speech. You ought not call your parent/guardian a fascist fuckwad; you ought to be able to politely say that you question said parent/guardian's wisdom in outright banning the discussion of sex/religion/you getting a body piercing/game console/car/own room/[insert topic here].

Insert digression into politeness. At a minimum, please, thank you, excuse me, I apologize, and may I should be used whenever necessary. There are probably others.

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