Experiencing change and growth in life isn’t always easy, but the end result is often remarkable.

By Jillian Lesson

Throughout life, change is inevitable. Sometimes change comes smoothly and naturally, and other times change can comes with various challenges. Some changes are positive, some are negative, and others are neutral. Life is all about changes, because that’s how we grow.

Can you imagine if we never changed from the day we were born? We’d all be infants! Change can be hard, but nothing is harder than staying in a place you have grown out of. Change can be extremely uncomfortable, because often you must take chances and give up certain things.

Last summer I experienced my final summer as a camper. I had a difficult time at camp because I experiencing internal challenges ­— namely, I was changing. Since the age of seven, going back to camp every summer was a given. I went to school, and then I went to camp. I spent my difficult moments at school looking forward to how happy I would be at camp. It was where most of my daydreams took place. It was my haven. I will be forever grateful that I was able to spend nine consecutive summers there.

Even though I struggled at camp last summer, I never questioned not going back the following summer for the coveted CIT year. Yet, I could not figure out why I was having such a hard time having fun. Camp was exactly the same — it had not changed.

However, I felt my camp friendships shifting. I felt myself disconnecting from activities I once loved. I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me.

summer camp hammock
Photo via iStock

It wasn’t until I came home that I felt how profound this change was. I was sad; I was confused. I was grieving for the best senior camper summer that never was.  The week between camp and school was the hardest week of my life. I experienced countless emotions, and at the same time I had a ton of summer homework to complete. I was almost grieving my camp summers. It felt like the end of an era.

I spent hours crying, feeling depressed and angry. Everything felt so different. I didn’t recognize this “me” that felt different about the place I spent nine years loving. My dream of having the best summer was defeated.

I did not yet understand that I was in the midst of changing and growing, and that sometimes change and growth involve pain. It was by some sort of miracle that I was able to complete my homework. I spent my last week of summer feeling miserable, taking notes on history while riding the jarring and confusing waves of change.

As I started school, I slowly began to feel better. I wrote in my journal; I spoke with a few trusted adults; I made music playlists that soothed my soul. I allowed my changes to integrate inside of me. To this day, I continue to improve, and this year has been one of the best years of my life.

One of my core values is staying true to myself, and this year I have been myself more than ever. As time goes on, I realize more definitively that my needs have changed.

Usually during the school year I craved an escape, which was camp for me. This year I find myself much happier in the present moment. I find myself wanting a different kind of summer, one that involves seeing new places, traveling, learning and spending time with family. Although I still love camp and I may go back as a counselor one day, my own personal needs have changed. I have changed.

I will spend this next summer living outside of my comfort zone. Although my nine years at camp has provided me with so much growth and with so many irreplaceable experiences, and I am forever grateful, I look forward to this summer of change.

The next time I feel sad and confused about why a constant in my life suddenly feels drastically different, it’s probably me. It’s my soul telling me it’s time to step out of my comfort zone. Life is all about growth and change and learning how to ride those waves. And of all the life lessons that I learned at camp, this one may be the most important.

Hand flip wooden cube with word "change" to "chance", Personal development and career growth or change yourself concept
Photo via iStock


Jillian Lesson is a tenth grader at Frankel Jewish Academy. Born and raised in West Bloomfield, Jillian’s favorite things to do are reading, writing, and traveling. She also enjoys participating in tennis on the school’s varsity tennis team, being involved in UMatter, volunteering at Friendship Circle, and listening to “Hamilton” on repeat. She is the daughter of Lauren and Randy Lesson and the younger sister to Josh and Corey. To read more inspiring words from Jillian, visit her blog: https://journeytojillianblog.wordpress.com/

Read more from Jillian: The Downfalls of Perfectionism


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