Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Hope Is Risky But Worth It: 7 Truths For Changing Your Life

Name, define and look clearly at the change you need to make.

1. To change—authentically and not superficially—you must need to change; you must have sought change for a very long time. A whim, a stretch of bad luck, a passing desire, is not enough. You have to know precisely what you need to change. And you must also know what you’re willing to give—or give up—for it. There are costs and these need to be faced and factored in; name, define and look clearly at the change you need to make; ignoring possible consequences, both better or worse, will not affect the outcome.

2. Glimpses of consciousness come at exceptional moments and are rare—for much of life, we remember only bits of things, moments at best. When you were a small child, you had all kinds of experiences: you learned your first words, you took your first step, but you don’t remember those moments. Yet you can take for granted that they happened. These moments, as dramatic but unmeasurable, take place every day. It's up to you to decide which will lock you down or set you on a new path.

3. There’s enough going on in any one hour, let alone any one day, to occupy your senses and your imagination and keep you from asking the bigger questions. For some that’s enough; they stay where they are and that is a happy ending. Getting to the end of each hour and each day is a sufficient accomplishment for them. But for others it’s like living in one room of a ten room house with the curtains drawn: for some of us, such self-limitation is a small, slow death.

4. Some parts of our lives leave only a trace while some cut a swath through our essential selves; you must decide which this is and act as you need to act. Ask your later self: What do you think I should do? Listen carefully. Your later self will answer and will tell you the hard truth.

5. With good change comes triumph: maybe you’ve been living in the straw house and finally move into the brick one where the wolf can’t get at you—or maybe you're moving to beach and will buying a straw house, ignoring the wolves or howling with them. Either way, you're making a risk and you're betting on hope. And nothing—well, almost nothing—is more terrifying than hope. 

6. Hope is the original risky investment: there's always a risk of losing it entirely. But it’s useless to hang on to it and pretend it isn’t there. If you believe in something that turns out not to be true, you think, will anything be as terrible as finding that out? Yes, there is something worse: not taking the risk out of fear, shame or exhaustion is a betrayal of yourself. You probably know you need to make changes, but it's conjuring up the courage that's tough. And yet, once you're on the other side of the change, you'll look back in wonder that it took you so long...

7. You know you have to make your life different from what it is; you know you must not stay where you are unless you are willing to risk misery to yourself and to others who love you; you know you have the courage to do it if only you can rid yourself of the weight of the judgment of others. Your integrity must outweigh their censure and your dignity and fierce love of life must triumph over their most well-intentioned needs to keep you fastened to an existence that is no longer your destiny.

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

more...

Subscribe to Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.