Are you afraid of change? Or do you embrace it?

Posted By: Christine Robinson on January 22, 2018

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Are you afraid of change? Or do you embrace it?

As the Official National Business Education Partner of the Canadian Olympic Team, Smith School of Business is providing 1,200 scholarships in support of Canadian athletes. In this post, former women’s national water polo player Christine Robinson, who recently enrolled in the Full-time MBA program, shares some personal lessons on facing the fear of change.

A few years ago, after suffering a terrible personal loss, I found myself in a rut. I was depressed, unmotivated and simply felt like absolutely nothing was going my way. After feeling sorry for myself for much too long, I knew I desperately needed a change. As fate would have it, I was presented with the opportunity to play professional water polo in Italy. So naturally, I jumped at the chance. But if I’m being completely honest, the whole idea was very exciting until I was sitting in the airplane, all alone, over the open ocean.

I was leaving behind my family, my friends, my dog and the predictability of my daily routine. I was headed to a foreign country where I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t speak the language and I had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t help thinking “What the heck did I get myself into...?!” I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions (the stranger sitting beside me on the plane can attest to this). I was feeling nervous, excited, insecure and happy all at the same time. The whole thing was nerve wracking and frankly, I was scared.

I landed in Italy in the early hours of the morning, and I was greeted by an overly affectionate Italian hug and a box of delicious Italian pastries (from someone who would soon become one of my best friends). I instantly felt at ease. In the next two years, I learned to speak Italian, ate too much amazing food, made tons of genuine friendships, won a bunch of trophies and had an all-around incredible experience. I can’t imagine having missed out on all that out of fear...

Change is an inevitable part of life. From the little I remember from Philosophy 101, “The only thing that is constant in life is change”. So if we KNOW that it’s coming, why is it still so scary?

Change requires us to step out into the unknown. It forces us out of our comfort zone, which can be difficult. We feel secure when we are in control and able to predict what will happen next. However, this false sense of security can cause us to deny great opportunities and stunt our growth and development. We need to embrace change and learn to thrive on it, it’s part of evolution!

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." ~Charles Darwin~

One of the greatest skills I have learned being an athlete, is the ability to adapt to change. Some changes I’ve faced were small: changes in schedule, eating food I wasn’t used to, or playing outside in bad weather. Others were a little more difficult: getting injured, moving to Europe, or not qualifying for the Olympic Games. And some were just downright devastating: failed relationships or the death of a loved one. Obviously, some of these changes were much harder than others, but my adaptability always helped me turn these challenges into opportunities for growth.

Over the years I have learned to relinquish control, deal with discomfort, ask for help when I need it and to be more patient (this one still needs a bit more work). If you are able to adapt, every life change will be manageable because you KNOW that you are equipped to handle any situation, even the scary ones.

So now what? Well, because it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t take my own advice, I have embraced a new change and a new challenge; a Full-time MBA at Smith School of Business! With a background in sports and science, this experience will be completely out of my comfort zone. So naturally, I’m back on the emotional rollercoaster once again. The difference this time is, I know that the nerves, excitement and insecurities are all normal and I am better equipped to deal with them. I’ve learned how to harness these emotions and use them to my advantage. Now I’m more ready than ever to face this new challenge and I can’t wait to see what amazing opportunities lie ahead.

Change can be scary, even for the bravest of us. But only by stepping into the unknown can we discover our greatest selves.

*This blog post first appeared on Athlete-Pro Lynx.

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