Scary, Exciting, Unpredictable Change

by Lucy Aprahamian

* an introduction to Q3’s final theme of the academic year: Change *

Just a couple of years ago, saying “me too” didn’t suggest much of a politically charged message and “time’s up” was what students would hear at the end of an exam.  Nineteen years ago, Trump’s presidency was nothing more than a far-fetched joke on The Simpsons. Twitter was only created 13 years ago. Up until 12 years ago, no one was keeping up with the Kardashians. And in just another 12 years, our climate could change catastrophically.

A casual re-watch of any episode of Friends is proof enough that society is changing faster than we realise. When the show was airing, most of us hadn’t even reached high school, the amount of personal change we have gone through since then is astonishing (although a good number of us still are binging Friends). I myself have always been petrified by the idea of change – even deliberate change can lead to numerous unforeseen consequences. Is there anything worse than not knowing what’s coming or how to prepare for it, not being able to predict or control the results of our own actions? Surely, that’s quite a common fear; it probably has a lot to do with why anxiety is the most common mental health disorder, why half of all Brits were so easily tempted to ‘take back control’ or why any social development is followed by a vicious backlash. Just look around the crowd in any final-year lecture in the midst of the second semester and you’ll find a worrying amount of stressed wide-eyed looks and people refreshing their emails in the hope that they have received application results in the past 3 seconds.

How could we deal with it? In my experience, the best strategy is to focus on the exciting possibilities rather than the possible catastrophes. As any final-year student can tell you, life is changing faster than we are prepared for. We can fear and avoid it or try our best to provoke the kind of change we want to see in our lifetime.

In the last theme of the academic year, Q3 will be exploring the range of changes we are observing and how to best handle them – from social and cultural shifts to drastic political change, to the inevitable personal lifestyle changes that come with graduation.