Adaptation and Evolution

Sarah - Carmel, Indiana
Entered on September 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

We have these moments in life, many more than we know, when we’re looking down that proverbial road, imagining what’s to become of us. We tell ourselves an infinity of lies: that we missed the deadline, that we won’t make it, that we’ll never measure up. And then by some rare form of grace, we’re on the other side of that same road, perhaps a little tainted, but wondering why we devoted so much time to worrying about the destination when we knew we could manage the journey all along. This I believe: we as human beings have a wondrous ability to adapt and evolve endlessly throughout the course of our lifetime.

I’ve gone through countless cycles of being set in my ways and then eventually surrendering to change. I was raised in a traditional family of four, and attended a private Catholic school with my brother. The community was as small as its people’s mindsets. I followed suit and found it easy to adopt rituals: sleeping with a night light, not questioning authority—especially God, and doing nearly everything in my power to please my parents. But somehow overtime the security of that comfort blanket became more of a chokehold, and I needed to try something different. I quickly became accustomed to sleeping in the dark. I shed my timid skin around the sixth grade, and while I didn’t necessarily question authority, I was able to come to my parents with questions, and work on the whole self-esteem thing. In retrospect these achievements were small, but they built up a sense of adaptation that I respected; I wasn’t so afraid of the future.

A few years later, I was told I had a disease. I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to wrap myself back up in that blanket of predictability and shut out all talk of blood sugars, and insulin, and carbohydrates. It hadn’t taken me long to become afraid again; I was frozen at the beginning of the road. The journey of being a newly diagnosed diabetic, to say the least, looked dismal and defeating. It was in my state of numbness that I began to take those first blind steps into adaptation. The change stood out like a sore thumb—literally. Each prick of the glucose meter felt like a stab to a past I could never bring back. It was one thing to accept change; it was another to be forced to cope and adapt for survival.

I now know that adaptation doesn’t come pre-packaged with a side of understanding. And when you allow yourself to go through the motions of change, the true evolution takes place, creating a new being with a new set of rituals. Like the paths we walk in life, we are ever-changing, and yet ever the same. I believe this: it is not the continuity of the road beneath of our feet that builds a new character, but rather the will to travel at all.