Resisting change is something I excel at. But as I add another year to my time on this planet, I’m starting to realize how the best changes are the ones I never expected, and that my resistance, though futile, only delayed the inevitable, which in hindsight was really incredible. Did you get all that? Sure you did.

Someone I once trusted told me a leopard never changes its spots. People don’t change, they said. I was too hopeful to find the good in humanity, they insisted. Basically, they explained, leopards are leopards, which is a clever metaphor for liars lie, cheaters cheat, do-gooders do good and annoyingly happy people are always cheerful. Narcissist’s don’t change. They don’t have too. Guess which one this person was? (Hint: their spots have not changed.)

I can tell you with complete certainty that I am not a leopard, but I have changed some of my most fundamental spots. In fact, I’ve added a few. Every year some weird blotches show up that have me calling doctor Mark asking, “what is this?” It’s good to check your spots, folks.

Metaphorically speaking, this cat (meaning me) has shed some layers. That’s a good thing. I am not the same person I was in my twenties, (she looked way better in jeans), and I am certainly not the same woman I was in my thirties, (I blame the children for Mom jeans), and in my forties, well, let’s just say when skinny jeans disappear, I’m allowing myself to bloat out like a bouncy castle.  Come to think of it, I’m not the same person I was last week. I am good with that.

The change in me is so subtle, so slow moving, you wouldn’t see it. Most of the time, I’m not even aware of it until a life event, some big change, pushes me to make a choice I could not or would not have made before. I have achieved my sense of self through a series of random and incredibly profound accidents, mishaps and divine interventions. I have perfected mistakes. And for that, I am grateful. I may learn the hard way, but at least I’m learning, and I believe that is the point.

My friendships are perhaps the best indicator of how much people evolve. There isn’t a leopard in the pack, but I admire them all as the unique species they are. My recent birthday reminded me how vital my friendships are to shaping who I have become.  A diverse group of people inspire me and I realize how much I love those who have undergone significant change in their own lives, to the point I may not recognize who they once were, yet I don’t doubt for a minute their authenticity now. We all have our own paths, each with obstacles and challenges. We’ve all loved and lost, and loved again. We’ve done really stupid stuff. We’ve trusted the wrong people. We’ve said no when we meant yes, and vise versa. We’re broken and whole at any given moment. It’s okay. That’s life. We’re survivors of our own obstacle course and we keep learning how to navigate the journey together.

Go ahead and make mistakes, get hurt, get healed and keep moving on. Shed the negative and love the leopards who can’t change, but don’t become one.

And please, have the doctor check your spots.



Kelly Waterhouse