Last week, out there in the real world, it was pretty challenging and despite the intervening weekend, as i write this on Sunday evening, i’m still feeling drained and fatigued by the demands of the week that has gone. The reason is simply that big changes are occurring with work and my own role, responsibilities and the personalities i have to work with all changed at the beginning of last week – everything is new to me, including a completely new team to manage: the learning curve has been steep… at times it’s felt almost vertical!
Unfortunately, the pace of life these days means that we’re often required to hit the ground running – we may well find ourselves faced with the new and unfamiliar, but ever more frequently, we’re expected to just get on with the job, and heaven-forbid that performance, quality or output should take a hit, simply because we’re new to things. It takes a certain ability to rise to the situation and re-invent oneself to meet the new challenges that come our way. Certainly – in the world of business – it seems that change is the new stability.
Over the course of recent years, change has been my constant companion – not just within the workplace, but also within my social and personal circumstances. i seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time constantly having to re-invent myself and the way in which i relate to the world around me, something that i’ve become something of an expert at, although there are still times that i would pay good money, just for a little bit of stability and consistency. You see, i never have been the sort of person who embraces change; it’s something that i’ve had to learn to accommodate – a challenge to be met and overcome.
Much as many may thrive on change, or have managed to master the skills to stay on top of it, there’s a great deal to be said for having some element of stability in our lives – like keeping our favourite mug when we change job, or having a best friend we can turn to whenever we’re finding something tough, most of us need something we can grasp hold of that isn’t going to change and will remain reliable, dependable and accessible, no matter how changeable the world or our personal situations may me.
Reliable, dependable and accessible are not usually words you’d find in the same sentence as Second Life… yet, in this context, there’s much to be said for our virtual world. i have friends for whom sl has been a uniquely stable environment during times of upheaval during their real lives. Out there, in the big, uncaring world, we may face changes to our circumstances that have significant impact on our wellbeing and ability to function: illness, relocation, commitments, all of which can impose change that is disorientating and often extremely stressful – even a simple change of address, (when was that ever simple?), can mean losing contact with friends, family and familiar locations – yet, in sl, no matter how far we may move, become incapacitated or have our lives turned upside-down, our friends and the familiarity of cherished places remains constant throughout: that much-needed stability that we crave.
More than that, i think sl can provide us with the means to become more adaptable and able to manage change. Ironically, considering what i’ve already said, we’re all very much aware of the changeability of sl: sims that disappear overnight, places that seem to have been redesigned every time we visit, avatars who change their display names more frequently than they change their clothes…. but, in the vast scheme of things these are – at worst – annoyances and nothing that we can’t deal with. In fact, we are often the instigators of change when it comes to sl – unlike the real world, where change is frequently imposed and we are required to adapt, it is often ourselves who direct the way in which change occurs in our virtual lives, whether that’s a simple matter of a new hairstyle or something more radical, like completely redesigning our avatar or environment. Change, when it is something over which we have little control, can be stressful, challenging and hugely de-stabilising, whereas change over which we have ultimate control and which occurs in accordance with our own plans and design can be hugely empowering. Not only that, but the skills we develop to accommodate change in the virtual world can be just as effective in rl too.
Personally, i believe that sl has provided me with both a bolt-hole of stability when times have been less than clear in rl, and also a means by which i’ve learned some of the positive aspects of change, and how to deal with it.
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
David Bowie – Changes