Stay The Same – Or Change?


The year is young, relatively at least. We still have about three-quarters of the year left to implement what we set out to do a few months ago. According to Alain de Botton: “If you’re not ashamed of who you were last year, you’re probably not learning enough.”

New Year is used as an opportunity to reflect and admit that some things must change. Many of us take a tough but fair look at ourselves and conclude that we are not satisfied with how things are going. Time to break old patterns. Then there are also those who claim it is a cliché wanting to change once a year. Some even mock this opportunity to reflect.

Birthdays also provide the chance to reflect on how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with yourself and the life you are living.

“Stay just the way you are “or “You are perfect” – birthday wishes we all know.

I find the message behind these sayings strange. The history of mankind, the path to civilization, and great breakthroughs – both personal and collective – have only taken place thanks to change.

If our ancestors had stayed as they were, we would still be living in caves, dying young and I would probably be painting the walls with coal, completely unfit for hunting or making fires.

Because if people did not accept change, or worse rejected anything new and stood still, there would be no chance of personal or overall human development.


“Stay just the way you are!”


Great things were achieved by those who were not satisfied with themselves and the world in which they lived. By those who wanted to change something drastically.

It can therefore be assumed that anyone who seriously believes that they are perfect the way they are, has no expectations of themselves or their life, no real ambition, and ultimately no motivation.

Anyone who tells this to someone else apparently sees no potential or hope that the person addressed could face up to inner and outer growth.

Of course, it’s meant in a sweet way, yet again: “The opposite of good is not evil, but well-intentioned.”

I must admit it sounds great, very pleasant, and temptingly easy: Stay just as you are, don’t change anything, everything is fine the way it is. And it can be assumed that this platitude is meant to address the positive aspects of a person. However, I have learned that usually, the people who are not satisfied with themselves are the ones who realize unusual dreams and achieve great goals.

One must accept sacrifices in the short term so that one can be proud of oneself in the long term.

Otherwise, you run the risk of ultimately wasting talent, relationships, or one’s true calling.

Anyone with a bit of life experience knows that the easy way rarely makes you happy. It’s the things that you’re willing to make small and big sacrifices for that bear the sweetest fruit.

“You’re not okay the way you are. Far away from perfect and you never will be.”

A provocative, uncomfortable expression that will annoy and irritate some people.

But the true optimist, a fighter, anyone who suspects how much potential they could have, anyone who sees what could be possible in life, will agree. Because it’s damn pessimistic to assume that the current “actual state” is the best of all possibilities.

The goal should be, to never be completely satisfied with yourself. Not to feel sorry for yourself and whine about it, but to constantly work on yourself and thereby constantly grow beyond your current self.


“There’s a fine line between staying young and getting stuck.”


What could be more redeeming than your own inner revolution? Winning the war against your own weaknesses and winning with your head held high.

But I also know a type of person who sees this differently: People who claim to have remained true to themselves. They even show off with this. However, remaining true to themselves means that they still think the same, dress the same, and deal with the same issues as they did in their youth. “There’s a fine line between staying young and getting stuck,” says Felix Lobrecht and I agree with him.

And I don’t mean the positive and beautiful aspects of staying true to yourself.

In my opinion, not allowing yourself to be bent and controlled by others when it comes to your basic values and convictions is a highly honorable quality! This is not what I mean. What I disagree with is stubbornly persisting in a negative or even hopeless situation.

Because is this what it is worth striving for? To remain at a certain point in your life and not move on? The greatest value we have in our lives is the hours we have to live. How and with who we spend our time with. The countdown to the grave is on and at least I want to invest my most precious possession, the time I have left, well.

Every new confrontation in life potentially awakens a new side to us. Changes us. Offers opportunities for new and undiscovered things.

And unfortunately, we tend to freeze inside, especially after difficult or even traumatic experiences. Time stands still, at least the feeling of that time. This can mean that the fears of our five-year-old self have us in their grip. Or the anger of our fifteen-year-old self overcomes us in stressful situations. Only when we confront what we have experienced and understand where a certain pattern of behavior is coming from, we can move on and perhaps even overcome it in the end. Processing and overcoming means allowing change, even longing for it. Stagnation only feeds our fears and weaknesses.

As infants, we learn new skills every day, overcoming the first hurdles of existence with enthusiasm. Parents are delighted by every tiny change. No mother or father would be proud to say, “My child hasn’t changed at all in the last few months.

We don’t need optimism, we need activism.

Remaining optimistic in an unhappy relationship can be fatal. Staying optimistic while the body is crying out for help can even be deadly. Actively doing something, ideally making a change, would be much more advisable.

“Optimism can prevent a fool from recognizing his failure,” said Arthur Schopenhauer.

Pure optimism can indeed be just as paralyzing as pure pessimism. Ideally, those two emotional worlds alternate. Without one, the other loses its meaning.


“We don’t need optimism, we need activism.”


Active people are the ones who make steady progress. This can be a pessimist, who is dissatisfied and therefore longs for change, as well as the optimist, who is bursting with zest for action.

Passivity and surrender paralyze, both internally and externally. No muscle will grow without pain. And the fact that psychological pain can be a kind of growing pains of the soul is a comforting thought during dark times.

Nothing of true meaning and greatness is easy. So, let’s finally stop treating ourselves as if we were oversensitive children. Because we are tougher than we think.

If you are happy to stay 100% as you are, that would mean you have no dreams or goals.

A life without dreams and goals worth fighting for, what a bitter fate that would be. The revolution of the self, on the other hand, is a dream. If everyone had it, the world would probably be a different place.

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Text: Marie F. Trankovits, photo: Christina Spiliotopoulou

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<a href="" target="_self">Marie</a>



Marie F. Trankovits moved around the world until she fell in love with Berlin. Currently, she is working on her writing career.