Change is hard.
JEFF (as imagined by Abed): “Change is always scary. But then I thought of you guys, and I wasn’t so scared. Abed, when you brought this group together, you changed our lives, but then we changed each other. And we’re going to keep changing in unexpected ways. And we’re still all going to keep being friends, even if we don’t all become professors at Greendale, or open a restaurant together, or move into the same apartment building after Pierce dies. Even if we go somewhere, we’re not going anywhere.”
ABED: “That was a killer speech, Jeff.”
JEFF: “I didn’t say anything. I literally just walked up.”
ABED: “I know. I made the speech for you. It hit all the right notes. I was trying to hang on to this moment because I was so afraid of the future, but then I realized all of this was once the future. And it was completely different from what I’d known before. And it was happening so fast, but in the end, or in the now, I guess, it turned out great. I just had to run the scenario to figure it out.” [“History 101,” Community]
I was thinking about how I have a harder time adjusting to change than I’d like to admit sometimes. This semester has been a wave of changes, mostly good ones, as I adjust to novel environments and people and then notice my need for routine and ritual amongst it all. I saw Community‘s fourth season premiere this morning and noticed how all the characters struggled to make sense of a world moving faster than expected. “History 101” explored the anxieties that come with changing environments and interpersonal circumstances. There’s a sense of overwhelming terror once one realizes how little control we have over change. It comes regardless of whether we’re ready.
At first, Abed tried to deal with his evolving relationship with Troy (his best friend, who is now dating another member of the study group), by disconnecting himself from the present reality. He daydreamed of a happy sitcom-like place in which he would never have to graduate from Greendale, continuing to be surrounded by his friends, because graduation was too scary a reality to confront.
Meanwhile, Jeff participates in the Hunger Deans (homage to the Hunger Games, but with added sexual tension via Dean Pelton) just so he can get a course override. Jeff plans to graduate early, so he wants to secure spots in a popular history class (well, an Ice Cream related one) for the study group. That way, they can take their last class together, and Jeff will feel that his world has some sense of continuity, by preserving this ritual. Troy and Britta try to understand their transition from friendship to romantic relationship without alienating Abed in the process. Annie is afraid of what the future brings for her as a hospital administrator, which could be a terribly unfulfilling job. Even Dean Pelton realizes he will miss Jeff after he graduates, so he rents the apartment nearby Jeff’s place.
I’ve noticed how I often process emotionally fraught circumstances through the lens of pop culture, especially television dramas and dramedies (like Community). Somehow seeing a character onscreen live out an experience and feel deeply helps me better understand myself. I remember hearing a friend say, “Change feels like stepping off a curb without realizing it’s there.” I get that: I often find myself wishing for a predictable work-life and consistent social relationships, but the universe often reminds me that this is rarely the case. Maybe that’s okay.
So dear readers, how do you deal with change?