As I was growing up, I would often overhear comments that went something like this:
“I knew her before she became famous. But then she changed.”
“You know, Gladys has really changed since she lost all that weight.”
The word “changed” was always said with the same vocal intonation you would use to say “foot fungus” or “halitosis.” Change was obviously bad and no one should ever do it. That was the message I received.
My first book was published in 2002, and at that time, I made a decision. I was not going to change. I would never give anyone reason to say, “I knew Tristi before she was published, but now she’s changed.” Consequently, I don’t often talk about my writing. I never bring it up at church activities and I hardly ever take the opportunity to share what I’m doing with others. Friends and family sometimes ask what my latest project is, and I’ll tell them, but for the most part I don’t volunteer the information. I don’t want people to think I’ve changed.
It’s different in the writing community. Everyone has the same goal, even though we’re approaching it different ways, and we get each other. I can talk more freely here than I can in my regular, every day life.
But tonight, I’ve been having some deep thoughts. I want to pass them on to you here, and I would love to hear some of your deep thoughts, as well.
1. Didn’t we come here to this earth for the purpose of learning and growing? And when we learn and grow, doesn’t that mean that we are changing from what we are now into what we can become? That would make change good, not bad. Why do people say “change” like they think it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to a person?
2. Since we are here to learn and grow, and our earth life is of a limited duration, wouldn’t that mean that we need to be working on ourselves right now, all the time? If you knew you only had five years to accomplish everything you ever wanted to accomplish, you’d get right to work. None of us knows how long we have. If we waste our time, putting off our goals and dreams for one reason or another, we may not have time to do it later.
3. And, since we’re here to learn and grow, and we have limited time, wouldn’t that mean that we should be selective about how we spend our time? I think we should carefully choose those things we do, so that we are learning and growing while we’re doing them. If you’re not going to grow from doing it, then why do it?
I think about all the chances to share what I love to do that I missed out on because I was afraid someone would accuse me of “changing.” Granted, I’m not going to get up and bear my testimony in church and plug my latest book. But how many times have I downplayed my accomplishments, or even criticized myself, all because I didn’t want someone to think I’d gotten a big head? How many times have I confused humility with self-doubt? How many times have I upset the balance between pride and genuinely deserved self esteem? And how often have I beaten myself up about it?
There is nothing wrong with taking satisfaction from what you do. When someone asks you what you do for a living, do you feel ashamed when you say “plumber” or “accountant” or “computer programmer?” You may not have the career you currently want, but you don’t generally hide what you do because you’re worried what people will think. (Unless you’re doing something illegal, which I seriously doubt you are.) Why hide your writing? Or if you dance, why hide your dancing? Why do we feel ashamed of our talents?
In all honesty, despite my efforts to “keep from changing,” there are those who have had difficulty accepting my published status. I took that far too much to heart at first. But with these deep thoughts, I’m realizing that it’s okay that I’ve changed. Why do it if it’s not going to change me? I don’t want to be the same person forever. I want to learn and grow and overcome and conquer, and I can’t do that if I am always exactly the same.
So as you write and become published, or achieve another goal you've had, don’t listen to those people who will criticize you for changing. If you have changed, you are on the natural path of life, achieving some of the things that God sent you down here to achieve. Just make sure that you’re changing for the better.