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2022. As every new year does, 2022 presents the chance to start fresh. A little over a month ago, my favorite soccer team, Manchester United, replaced head coach and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a German manager, a first in the club’s 143-year history. A fortnight before Christmas Eve, the Indian cricket team adopted split captaincy for the first time. This was uncharted territory for India, a country that loves cricket. Before the clock struck 12 on Dec. 31, we saw the University of Michigan compete in the College Football Playoff for the first time since the playoff’s creation, generating a new era for a roster and coach its adoring fan base can finally rally behind. As the three teams my life revolves around entered new phases of their journey, I was served a stark reminder that sports is a cut-throat industry. It’s made up of individuals who are under pressure and expected to deliver, on and off the pitch. Hence, they often quickly learn an art that many take years to master: the art of dealing with change.

Change is a phenomenon that many, including myself, find difficult to deal with, but it is one that is often inevitable. An amygdala hijack refers to a situation where the brain senses danger and immediately orders the body to react in a way that might counteract that danger. Change is one such trigger that the brain might consider a threat, which is why many people often resist even the smallest of changes; be it getting used to a new morning coffee shop or traveling halfway across the world to complete your undergraduate studies in a significantly colder and significantly smaller city than the one you grew up in. Everybody has their own reasons for avoiding change, but most of us would also agree that change is not only required, but more often than not, it is beneficial. So, as the new year begins, how can we better equip ourselves to cope with the changes that it will bring?

Emerson Human Capital Consulting, a company that aims to help firms get the most out of their employees, cites Gleicher’s formula as a way to help people deal with change. The formula focuses on the idea of dissatisfaction with the way things currently are, a picture of a better tomorrow and taking the initial steps toward making that vision a reality. A dissatisfaction with the performance of the U-M football team, an image of what Manchester United football club should stand for and making the decision to split the Indian cricket team’s captaincy are all examples of Gleicher’s formula being used by athletic institutions at the highest level, and it’s not difficult to see why. A big part of resisting change is being tied to the past. Why would anybody want to try a new coffee shop if the current one added an extra shot of caramel and threw in a cookie on the house every now and then? Why go through the hassle of adapting to something new when you can keep things the way they are? 

Nostalgia is a powerful tool, one that fuels my devotion to the things and people I love. It keeps me connected to them and gives me a reason to keep going. Because of this, when I’m in a situation where greener pastures are within sight, I hesitate. I’m afraid of an eventuality where I look back and regret. When I flew out of Mumbai — my hometown — and into Ann Arbor for my college experience, I promised myself that I would embrace the change with an open mind. I promised myself that I wouldn’t look back and Dr. Strange my way into alternate realities, trying to imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t left. I’m a pretty dramatic person, and I like to treat my life like it’s one long movie, so I posted a picture on Instagram to mark this moment. Within the post’s comments, I found the people that mattered over the last 19 years. I instantly found comfort in the idea that even though I might not see them or meet with them as often, they’d always be there. Being back home over winter break further solidified that belief. It changed the way I perceive change.

New beginnings are like a messy desktop, with everything from jpegs and tiffs to pdf and docx files. Taking the next step in your journey is like dumping all of those files into one folder, often lazily named “Desktop” or something. It doesn’t mean that the files within are forgotten, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t matter. In fact, they matter a little too much (which is why they aren’t in the trash). They’re in that new folder because if the desktop ever gets too messy again, and it will, everything you’ve been through before will literally be a click of a button away. Not only does that give me the power to face change, but it also makes me excited for it. The last four months, my first four in Ann Arbor, have shown me the wonders that change can do and make me compelled to say: here’s to 2022.

Rushabh Shah is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at rushabhk@umich.edu.