Change can be grating. As we find ourselves exhausted within the monotonous cycle of our routines, day in and day out, there’s always some small part within us craving something more. Then change happens and we feel afraid.

Change is a portal that either leads us forward into the unforeseen future, or backwards into the familiar past. Change always seems too scary, too unpredictable—it’s a shame that time is spent agonizing over a static life. Change is scary, but nothing hurts more than standing stuck in the mud.

I find it deeply ironic that change itself is the only true constant in life. No matter where we are, what we’re doing, and regardless of our age, change abounds. Yet how could such dynamic beings as ourselves ever be expected not to change?

I felt stuck in my life this past February. I had just finished recovering from a grueling ankle reconstruction, was applying for countless jobs, and felt a growing cynicism towards things that I always dreamt of.

So, I dyed my virgin blonde hair with henna. I needed change in my life, so I made a big change indirectly. I looked different, and I felt different! It was exhilarating and I felt some modicum of renewed hope return in my body.

Change precipitated our arrival on Earth. From the second we’re born, the world irreversibly and irrevocably shifts. We almost have no choice but to laugh in the face of our fear of remaining stagnant.

Sometimes great joy can come from change. Birth, first steps, learning how to ride a bike, growing taller, having your first crush, meeting friends, falling in love, finding a partner, having a child, and searching for a greater purpose. It’s all beautiful and slightly terrifying at once.

Then there are harder forms of change: Losing your teeth, the onset of puberty (not to be dramatic), the loss of innocence, the end of meaningful chapters, having to say goodbye, and losing loved ones. To put it simply, these things suck.

The message that stands out clearly to me is that change is ultimately just a collection of brand-new experiences, and this newness can feel deeply uncomfortable until we become accustomed to it. Then we integrate into our lives and adapt until the next thing comes along and thickens the plot.

There are so few things in our everyday lives that we actually can change. This includes regulating our reactions to life events and lowering our resistance to change.

And now we can look to the trees for wisdom. Trees have evolved to manage the load of strong winds by bending in them so as to not split in half and fall over. Sure, the tree will lose some twigs and slim branches in the process, but it will remain upright.

Think of the strong winds as an extended metaphor for adversity, and we are the trunk and the roots. If we can learn to become flexible in times of great strain, then we can survive any bad weather thrown our way. If we remain stiff and unwavering, however, we risk being knocked to the ground. Unsurprisingly, we will always have much to learn from the trees.

Change is something that can’t be avoided. It is always just going to kind of be there, nagging for our response. It’s always going to push us to adapt and expand to meet the challenges of our current unfamiliar environment.

And since we can’t change the change itself, we can learn to live with it by lowering our defenses and allowing who we are to be an anchor in high tides.

Bending in the wind, we begin to let life move through us rather than toward us. We will ultimately make it through to the other side of our struggles when we stand strong in the prevailing self and trust in our ability to overcome them.