EDITORIAL- The Unattractive Combination: Challenge and Change

In my initial weeks here at North Penn High School, I found myself in an environment quite different from before… new school, new teachers, new peers.  Although I liked some of the differences (ie. more independence, different club opportunities), I found myself longing for some things to work the same way as they did in middle school.

Eventually, I asked myself, “Why am I resisting change?… Furthermore, on a larger scale, why does humanity as whole repel change, or rather any deviation from the norm?”. Biologically, living beings instinctively react to change, but why is change feared by many? What makes change so unattractive? Inarguably, the main reason why change is resisted so much is because people view change as a route to the unknown. Generally speaking, people prefer the “known.” After all, we are ultimately beings of control; in the world we live in, we feel the need for the sense of control. We want to feel temporarily reassured that we know more than what we don’t know… even if that is not the case. When we are forced to relinquish this sense of control, we are surrounded by unpredictability of various degrees. When change provokes the loss of this “control”l, we have the tendency to feel insecure; generally speaking, that is why we ultimately dislike change.

After pondering this matter for hours, I concluded that change is so feared by many because people automatically associate change with challenge innately. With that being said,  challenge is feared for similar reasons as to why change is feared. But, what brings about this fear for challenge… fear of doing work and the possibility of failure? When stuck in challenges, we, almost unavoidably, feel pessimistic and hopeless about the lack of progress… After all according to HBS Professor Kanter, “in the middle, everything looks like a failure”. Challenge is opposed by many primarily because of the possibility of failure. Humans undoubtedly fear failure because of the results and impact in the future. This psychological concept dates back millennia: humans resisted change to their environment as such changes evoked challenges; if these challenges were not met appropriately, they would fail, in the sense that they would not survive in the new environment. Although this consequence of failure is not entirely applicable today, we do fear failure because of the short-term and long-term results. For example, as high school students, we fear failure because such setbacks may inhibit us from achieving our goals, such as going to college and attaining a dream career.

I believe challenge is a misconception. While so many people automatically are averse to change and challenge for the unpredictability of its consequences, I feel that we should embrace it because each challenge and change is enriching because it expands and broadens our role and perception in the world. These challenges open up doors we never thought existed; while most challenges are not enjoyable, we should reap any possible learnings from it. Not only do challenges present themselves as learning opportunities, but overcoming new challenges gives us the prized, irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment- the feeling we continuously strive for.