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  • Writer's pictureThe Eagle

SOS: Change, The Seemingly Unconquerable Beast

Updated: Mar 6

By Quinnton Collison--Eagle Staff Writer



Editor's Note: SOS (Students Offering Support) is a regular feature where student reporters (in consultation with mental health professionals) provide support and information to help peers deal with common high school challenges. If you or a classmate are experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact your guidance counselor, family physician, a trusted adult, or call 911 or 988 for immediate assistance.


We are all aware that while change is always happening, it often takes place when you least expect it. People don’t like change because it is new, and sometimes seems irrational. It is important to learn what types of change we may commonly experience and how change affects us. Additionally, it's important to learn how to acknowledge change and how to more easily accept it.


What are some common types of change that high school students face?

“Types of change students may experience can be loss and gain of peers and even family, different expectations of themselves, different interests they may have, different types/levels of classes, as well as being in different stages of their lives compared to others around them,” explains Madison Drew, a social worker at FCHS.

 

Psychology teacher Dustin Hylton adds, “ Anything that’s a major disruption of normal life could be a change that [students ] would struggle with. Maybe classes didn’t shake out the way they wanted. Some kids struggle with that semester change - they feel comfortable with their teachers. It can be something as simple as that.” 

 

Changes can be as catastrophic as the loss of a family member or as simple as having to adjust to a new set of peers with each school year. Whatever the cause, change disrupts the familiar patterns we rely on.


How does change affect us, especially change we don’t ask for?

A common response to change is to try to fight it, but mental health professionals agree that fighting it gets us nowhere and only adds to our anxiety. “Change affects everyone differently, but it can create anxiety, depression, and stress,” Drew describes.


An extreme resistance to change can be unhealthy. “The term there is maladaptive. It means 'badly adapted'" says Hylton. "In severe cases it can be crippling. Typically though, the struggle to change involves learning coping skills that you don’t know yet. In the long run, change can help because you learn coping skills."


So how do we learn to cope with change?

According to Drew, “The best advice I can give is to try to embrace the change. Change is scary and something that is uncomfortable. But when going through a change in life is when you grow as a human and you can learn a lot about yourself. It is easier said than done, but try to embrace the change and focus on the positives that could and are coming from the change.”


Can learning to cope with change help us in other ways?

“Adapting to change can help create coping skills [that help you] remain calm in other parts of your life that can create stress," Drew offers. Change allows you the opportunity to move on, learn something new, and prepare for harder challenges in the future.



So when should one start preparing for change?

“The moment you know it’s coming. But the problem with change is that we don’t always know it’s coming, which means the time to prepare is now. Be preemptively preparing for change, preemptively learning coping skills.” says Hylton.


One way to do that is to build a relationship with a mental health professional before you're struggling. “I advocate that even if you don’t have a mental health concern, go ahead and see a therapist. It’s like going to the doctor every year, but like having a checkup on your mental health, like every six months. Then if you hit a crisis point or a change that’s hard to deal with, you already have a relationship built with someone who can help you,” Hylton says.


Where can I get help right now?

Hylton and Drew both emphasized that any student having a hard time coping with change or any mental health issue should reach out to an administrator, teacher, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. They are trained professionals when it comes to helping students. You can go talk to them during school hours or set up a meeting so that you can talk.




Final thoughts

If as Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "Change is the only constant," it's in our best interests to learn to handle it. Being alive means changing. Even a flower has days when it blooms beautifully, and other days when it struggles to lift its head, but still it hangs on and embraces whatever comes. If nature isn't afraid to change, why should we be?

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