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I am a creature of habit. I’ve not drastically changed my hairstyle in the past 15 or so years. I’ve not colored, re-bonded, nor permed my hair despite the stylist’s best efforts to convince me. I have my hair trimmed regularly so it manages to stay within the same length, more or less. I’ve not changed my cellphone number since I first got it in college – more than 15 years ago. And in that span of time, I’ve only owned 5 pairs of phones, most of them hand-me-downs.

I wonder sometimes if this is a personality quirk or if I’ve just grown older and “set in my ways.” My biggest fear is that I’ll get so used to the way things are and have always been, that at some point in the future I’ll become obsolete. But when I look back at my life I realize that while change is good, too much change can be paralyzing.

I used to really hate wearing uniforms as a kid. I would whine why I couldn’t dress up like I wanted to every day like the American kids on TV. But when I went to college and had the freedom of dressing the way I wanted, I soon got tired of it. Of course I enjoyed dressing up and thinking about what to wear but doing so when I was already late was so stressful. These days, I’m grateful for having a job that requires me to wear a uniform. Then I can spend more time thinking of other things.

I’ve found that not having to make certain choices daily leaves me with more time to think about the changes that matter to me. Not always having to think about what sort of pen to buy or which hairstyle to sport, gives me more time to come up with something creative for work. Not worrying about whether to get the latest gadget or buy the latest fashion allows me to use my money for other things – such as travel or books – that will change my perspective and not just my look. And not worrying about having to constantly adapt, gives me more room to think about and pray over the life patterns and habits that I want change consciously.

The world would have us think that unless we’re always willing to try something new or to gamble on the next big thrill, we’re not really making the most of our lives and choices. To a certain extent, that’s true. Which means that to a certain extent, it isn’t. Being a creature of habit can be both limiting and freeing. The key to navigating our lives is to find the balance between the two and to realize whether it’s routine or change that can make us better human beings.

[Originally written in TACKED THOUGHTS for The Freeman
by Nancy Unchuan Toledo]

nancy toledoAbout Nancy Unchuan Toledo
When Nancy started teaching high school at age 21, she didn’t really think she’d make a career out of it. She was right. Ten years later and she realized teaching isn’t her career, it’s her passion. Writing is her passion, too, and she writes a bi-monthly column for the Freeman. Mostly she writes about her family, her friends, her students, her experiences in teaching, her love of books and her faith. Because those are the things that she cares about the most–although not necessarily in that order.

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