Change does seem to come in bursts. Years ago, in a psychology class, I read something by somebody about adult development. We think a lot about the stages of child development, but not so much adult. Anyway, this person had identified a few specific time periods in adult life during which people undergo a lot of intrapersonal change. He had it down to clusters of years, like 21-23, 28-30... I can't remember what they were, but they rang true at the time. Maybe occhiblu or someone knows what I'm talking about.
I'm just coming out of an intense phase like that, kind of looking around now to take stock of this newer version of me.
indeed, Grace - I had perhaps a similar experience several years back. I've rambled enough about it here and on AskMeFi that I don't feel like boring everyone else but suffice to say that I was pretty much a "psychological teenager" until roughly age 35 - and the people I'd surrounded myself with only helped to reinforce my laziness and immaturity. I was likely at my low point when I signed up for Ask. I honestly credit a bunch of the "human relations trainwreck threads" that others like to disparage as a tool that really helped me sort out my own head.
the bunnies helped a lot, too.
The way I see it, the biggest pain with going through all this stuff for yourself, is that even though there are lots of individuals out there to whom it's all "old and boring news, btdt, cry-me-a-river", it doesn't make it one single bit easier the first time YOU have to go through it. I think this is why I work so hard to be compassionate with the collegiate age folks I mentor. To them, it's all painfully new and scary, and believe me, I get that. So empathy laced with a little (but only a little) tough love definitely helps; jaded cynicism, not so much.
"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another, unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, of fix us in the present. We are made of layers, cells, constellations." The Diary of Ana´s Nin
And with the adult lifespan development stuff: I think, for the most part, in societies in which there's a lot of variation in major life milestones, there tends to be a lot of variations in development; a lot of the older ideas of "At this age, people do X" things seem to be breaking down. It used to be you moved out of your parents' home at 18 and had the anxiety of "launching" right then, got married and had kids a year or two later, spend the next 10-15 years strongly pursuing your career (if you were a man) or devoting yourself entirely to your kids and wife (if you were a woman), had a "midlife crisis" at 35 or so when your kids were old enough that you either felt you missed their entire childhood (if you were a man) or missed out on your own development (if you were a woman) and so you made major changes in your life, with psychologically successful people more or less swapping traditional gender roles, so that the husband realizes how important family is and starts to put more emphasis on relationships, and the wife realizes how important personal achievement is and starts to put more emphasis on herself, so that they each balance out a little more.
I think a lot of these things still happen, but the chronology, timing, and gender of each milestone's a bit more in flux. Major life events often trigger major life changes, but we're no longer going through life in lockstep so that all major life events happen to each of us at the same age. (Which does, for the most part, still happen in childhood, due to the school system and just general body/mind development issues.)
Which I think is pretty cool. I like knowing that my own life triggers my own growth, rather than some arbitrary date on the calendar. :-)
It comes and goes in my life. Or rather, change is a constant, but sometimes it kicks into overdrive. A lot changed after I was diagnosed with ADD two years ago next month. I had spent 31 years thinking I was hopelessly dense, like a poser; "like a smart person trapped in a stupid person's body" is how I described it to the shrink that diagnosed me.
The next year was full of huge changes (and challenges). Tried meds, changed meds, changed meds; found things that worked for me; decided that my stable career job was making my life worse; got a 4.0 GPA in a cont-ed course and reevaluated my intelligence; quit my stable career job to temp; moved back to Montreal because I knew I was happier here than in Toronto... it was a big year.
I still have difficulty shaking my old ways of looking at myself. I guess it just takes time and practice. Things aren't perfect. But I look back at that year as being positively pivotal -- it was just so many things I needed but didn't know. I want to make every year of my life full of new things, new projects and challenges and endeavours and goals, even more than I did before.
(I add the disclaimer that I've had a lot of change in my life -- for example, I've moved probably 30 times since I was a baby -- and I know that change is a lot scarier to people who're less accustomed to it! In fact I'm probably scared of the lack of change, but that's another thread!)
On the other hand, does anyone else still feel like September should bring new things? It's like 12+ years of schooling rewires your brain towards back-to-school anticipation, and even years since I've been in school I still get the urge.
I get the August/September MUST BUY SCHOOL SUPPLIES thing all the time. Of course, I haven't really been out of school very long (I think that in reality, I've only taken 1 actual semester off. Ever. Aside from summers, but those don't count anyways.)
I have this nagging feeling that shit is going to hit the fan momentarily very soon for me. It'll probably end up relating to change in some way, but I don't know for sure. I worry that it might not be positive.
By the Grace of God, my god, yes! You have put into words what I've been feeling acutely for the last months. I cut my long hair. I am not writing poetry, but studying herbalism. I've decided to take a break from teaching, and get deeper into my academic library shoes. My relationship is deepening and changing. Longtime habits are dropping away, and new ones emerging. Various hooks I had my identity strung upon are no longer important, or no longer there at all.
I feel as though all my cells turned over quickly, and sometimes I don't recognize myself. Bu it's kind of fun.