You Won’t Read This: How To Change or Become Different

A couple of months back, I made a list of 10 things that I absolutely love to do. I told myself that I would try to do 5 out of the 10 things on the list EVERY day and was sure of the fact that my life would change for the better as a result.

On the first day- I went for a run, meditated, wrote in a journal, recorded a mix and called a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. I was exhausted and by the end of the day, even those things that I was positive would bring me joy felt forced. On the second day, I said fuck it and drank mimosas with a friend while painting in my garage and found that to be far more rewarding than the previous day’s efforts. The “5/10 list” approach flopped after 24 hours- just one of many short-lived phases in 2019.

I am always looking for ways that I can facilitate a tangible shift in my existence- change. I discovered years ago that if I change the color of my hair, I feel good. If you think about change as it pertains to nature or science or society or anything really, it is typically a gradual process that begins with a singular action that is followed by countless reactions until a plateau or stability is reached once more. When I change the color of my hair, the jarring shift in my appearance causes people to react for 2 weeks at most before a plateau and stability are felt once more. The lack of permanence in this change sparks a short-lived high but it is by no means the white rabbit I’ve been chasing.

Many enlightened souls have sought to explain that the harder one works to change or the more things one tries to change, the deeper one will spiral into stagnancy. Having gone through countless ups and downs in my quest for clarity to understand how this could be true, I’ve finally found an answer that has brought me inner peace and silenced my drive to understand how to change: 

Change quite literally means “to MAKE or become different.” What I’ve chased cannot be attained by making myself change.  MAKING myself different, as I do in changing my hair, facilitates the aforementioned high-on-a-timer. Establishing consistency in just one or two things over time is what allows you to BECOME different- and that is the money shot extended-release long-lasting high with no comedown in sight. All this time chasing change and all I’ve really wanted is to add one or two consistent and manageable layers to my experience as a human that permit me to feel a bit more me.

It took me about six months to understand- though, I still have’t quite accepted-  that any added layer comes with a learning curve, is subject to the confines of time and space, and probably costs money. During this period, I went through a painting phase, a learning Japanese phase, a boxing work out phase that lasted an hour, a cooking Thai food phase, an Instagram algorithm phase, a clothing design phase, and countless other obscure phases that I thought would bring a deeper meaning to my existence. Ultimately, while I still dabble in some of these initiatives, they proved to be as meaningful or meaningless in the process of BECOMING different as a trip to the hair salon. 

Eventually, a combination of consistently working out and writing for pleasure- two activities that I had inexplicably given up even though I was well aware they brought me intense joy- did the trick. While these layers may not be as romantic as some of my phases, they bring me immense joy and I have worked them into my schedule so that I do one or both more days than not. AND YES- I feel that I’ve slowly become different as a result. S0- if something makes you feel good, doesn’t break your bank, and you can do it on a daily basis then that is a good place to start on your hunt for a lasting layer. If you are already good at something and enjoy it but simply don’t find the time for it, then that is a GREAT place start. So for the last “You Won’t Read This” of 2019, I will leave you with this-

In the new year, take the time to become different rather than making yourself different. Find something that reminds you of how stupendous you already are and do yourself the simple favor of doing it more. Change is inevitable.

With much love to you if you are reading this,
Kian McHugh

All photos courtesy of Serene Mansour.