Thrive Through Change: How to Nurture Personal Growth by Conquering Life’s Hurdles

By: Fahad Alden, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Well-being Leader 

Behind all the beauty of evolving and changing, buying cars and homes, finding romantic partners, and earning a nice career paycheck, all these great things come with a challenging concept—CHANGE. 

It was only when I began therapy and daily journaling that I realized why I feared change so much. This realization hit like a bolt from the blue. My fear was connected to losing control and safety. But more than that, I realized my anxiety held me back from discovering who I was as a person outside of the labels I, and everyone else, attached to me.

Instead of running away from change this year, I started experimenting with changes I have always wanted to make. I switched up my hair and style. I took new courses at school. I made many new decisions this year to see if I could test myself and do it. 

Facing the Fire

One big change I made this year was my job. At first, choosing to step into the role of assistant theatre student felt daunting. It was outside the normal scope of my media work and work with kids. 

Uncertainty bred mistakes as I struggled with technical set measurements. Professor Kathleen assured me to take a deep breath and take it step by step. She also began drawing me visual cues and hacks to understand the concept better. This helped me immensely when we did flats and built the door for the play. Just remembering to breathe and let go of rigid self-judgment helped me to uplevel my competencies. Progress began with extending grace to myself.

Another big learning moment was understanding the importance of an organized workflow. As a slightly messy person, I discovered satisfaction in using spreadsheets to track costumes and props. While the work took a while at the start, it saved me ample time in the long term. Now, when I need to find something, instead of having to wage a mental war to locate it, my labels and sheets save me time. This became a habit that I incorporated into my personal life, too. 

I also learned the value of tiny details. Sometimes, we  get so preoccupied with the bigger picture that we forget to kill our darlings, meaning focusing on the small details when it comes to a project. One wrong measurement, one terrible shade of paint, or an improperly implemented light can throw off the whole play or, worse yet, hurt someone. It’s these seemingly insignificant details that can make or break a performance.

My favorite “a-ha” moment occurred while programming stage lighting for an intense murder mystery scene. Playing with shadows, silhouettes, and color palettes made me feel like a magician of moods.  

Tempering Resilience

Taking classes outside of my major connected me to people of myriad personalities. I found that experience so true when we arrived at the painting section of lab hours. Painting requires a great amount of time. You have to ensure you get the right amount of paint, that it doesn’t get on your clothes, and that you are painting the right areas. But there was beauty in that limitation that I enjoyed exploring. I found a connection with other lab members, and we exchanged pointers, cracked jokes, and connected personally. 

Owning My Transformation

This role allowed me to grow outside the expectations I had of myself. I learned organization skills, creativity, and tenacity while meeting some amazing people. We all have the potential agency to change our identity—no permission slip is needed. 


Let me say that I do not have anything figured out. I am still figuring out where I misplaced my last three pairs of headphones. However, I enjoy tasting the sweet nectar of change as I move away from past and old narratives to explore who I am. 

Courses you could take in the theatre department if you’re interested:

World Theatre II: A survey of theater in its historical and social contexts from the 19th century to the present, focusing on innovations in design and technology, the advent of the director, the emergence of modern schools of acting, and the creation of new forms of theater to suit the changing needs of a modern world.

Shakespeare II: A study of selected histories, comedies, and tragedies not covered in 42.243. Shakespeare I is not a prerequisite.