Why It's Easier to Reinvent with Strangers | CoveyClub

Reading: How Strangers Can Help You Move On To What You Really Want to Do


How Strangers Can Help You Move On To What You Really Want to Do

CoveyClub's founder shares her insights

Lesley Jane Seymour

I’ve interviewed more than 200 people for my Reinvent Yourself with Lesley Jane Seymour podcast and hosted hundreds of reinventors in CoveyClub classes and events, so people often ask me what the big ahas are. Here’s one I’ll share because it’s not what anyone would think. Actually, it’s completely the opposite of your intuition.

Reinventing with strangers is easier than with people you know.

Surprising, right? It wasn’t something I set out to learn. It was more of a discovery along the way, a refrain I heard over and over from members who are in the process of creating change — big or small — in their lives. 

I’ll admit, when I started CoveyClub I didn’t know how the reinvention process worked. Or even if there was such a thing. But what I did know is that women 40+ are going to experience some sort of disruption in their lives on the way through the different decades of adulthood. Or they more likely will experience several disruptions. These interruptions take the form of health issues, child- or elder-care issues, career downsizing or dismissal, divorce, widowhood, empty nest…the list goes on. The reason? With our ever-expanding life spans, what we set up for ourselves in our 20s will obviously no longer work in our 40s, 50s, or 60s. The analogy I like to use is makeup. The makeup technique you mastered in your 20s no longer solves the problems created by skin or facial features with some wear and tear on them. For example, my technique for applying eyeliner today is one that in my youth I never imagined I’d have to face: it involves treating my eyelid more like a Slinky, pulling it gently taut, smudging the pencil liner with powder, and then letting it go, to do whatever scrunchy thing it’s going to do. 

Similarly, the friends you have today may need different handling than they did in your 20s. In fact, what I’ve found is that close friends, as well-intentioned as they might be, ultimately are mostly invested in you staying just as you are. After all, they’ve invested in your friendship and love you the way you are. Why would they want you to change? Unhappy friends, who are also in need of big life changes, might find it threatening for you to change. Because if you create movement in your life and start seeking a new kind of happiness, then what becomes of them and their situations? If they remain stuck, could your change force them to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask themselves why they can’t (or are unwilling to) change? So for their own subconscious survival, isn’t it better to discourage you from changing?

New friends, on the other hand, accept you as you are — the day you show up. If you have blue hair and like to skip around the room each day, we believe this is who you are. We accept and embrace your essence because we don’t know any other. Acceptance is built in. 

Change is hard. Studies show the human brain fears change. It is programmed to locate the safe places it knows and convince you to stay there: it is programmed for the most basic physical and mental survival. When you venture forth into the unknown you trigger the deepest part of your brain that fears for your life to rush into survival mode and warn you that there might be a dinosaur at the door of the cave. Why are you venturing out, it asks? Let me throw some anxiety in your way to show you how concerned I am about this foolish mission!

And yet, there is nothing like actually setting forth on that new mission. The creativity, energy, and dopamine release created by a new adventure is like nothing else you can experience in life.  Mastering a new job, a new hobby, even a new fashion style can create a hit of dopamine that makes you feel accomplished and exhilarated. And when you join a group like CoveyClub and are lifted up by accomplished women who are in the same process of change — who are nonjudgmental because they are on the same vulnerable journey — a kind of magic happens. I know this because I’ve been there myself — through creating CoveyClub, through moving to a whole new city, through embracing this second half of my life that has become my most interesting journey yet. Luckily for you, you don’t have to go it alone like I did. You can join the CoveyClub and let us help pave the way for your exploration of what’s next for you. 

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