The Only Constant

A Guide to Embracing Change and Leading an Authentic Life

Hardcover

March 5, 2024 | ISBN 9780593580561

Ebook

March 5, 2024 | ISBN 9780593580578

About the Book

You can become the change driver of your own life. The celebrated poet, educator, and author of Welcome Home shows you how in this practical, wise, and tender guide to all of life’s changes.

“Change is hard—but Najwa shows you what’s on the other side, and she’s the one you want to lead you through it.”—Melissa Urban, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Boundaries

 
In The Only Constant, Najwa Zebian guides you through the changes we must make and those we must endure in life, offering support, stabilizing practices, and step-by-step guidance to make it through the uncertainty. With timeless wisdom, Najwa shares stories of change from her own life, including the bonds to the past she needed to break so that she could live more honestly, the loss of a loved one, and accepting the changes required to manage chronic illness.
 
She also guides you through changes like:

• The end of a romantic relationship or friendship
• Setting boundaries with a friend or family member
• Changing your educational and career path
• Grieving the death of a loved one
• Breaking trauma bonds 
• Venturing outside of your survival mode
• Living an authentic life
• Practicing radical acceptance 

A highly practical guide to unfamiliar terrain, The Only Constant teaches that the purpose of change is to be true to yourself. Zebian simplifies change, teaches us to accept ourselves as we are now, and helps us focus on the necessity and unexpected beauty of those messy transitional times. And she guides you through it so that you can not only reach the better life that awaits you on the other side, but also so that you can take the wheel and become the driver of change in your own life.
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Praise for The Only Constant

“Dr. Najwa Zebian offers profound wisdom and healing insights, encouraging you not only to welcome change but to wholeheartedly embrace it as the path to creating the life you truly desire. With her perceptive guidance, she gently navigates the challenging experiences of loss, transitions, and heartbreak, providing manageable steps that lead you from your current reality to the future you seek. Her clear, tender, and wise advice serves as a beautiful source of encouragement for anyone facing the uncertainties of change, offering a steady hand to guide you through uncertain times.”—Todd Baratz, LMHC, creator of YourDiagnonsense and author of How to Love Someone Without Losing Your Mind
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Excerpt

The Only Constant

Chapter 1

Why Change Is Hard

Hint: Because we want it to be easy.

I will never forget the moment everything changed for me. I’ve always known that change is hard, whether it’s a change I choose, or one life chooses for me. I’ve also always known that change is one of life’s only constants. Not just that, change is one of life’s most beautiful truths. Change is what puts life in our lives. Change is the gateway to authentic transformation.

I don’t know about you, but the part I couldn’t quite put my finger on for the longest time was this: How on Earth do I actually embrace change instead of just knowing and believing that change is an integral part of life? How do I make change beautiful and necessary, instead of staying stuck at the intersection of knowing and doing? How do I stop trying to skip the part that is messy, uncertain, and unstable? How do I just do change?

How do I go from knowing that I need to live my life authentically to actually living that way? Especially when it means that my life will be flipped upside down in this pursuit? How do I go from knowing that the self-loving thing to do is to leave all toxic relationships behind and believe that I can form healthy connections, to actually doing that? How do I go from knowing that I want a career I love, not what my family or friends think is best for me, to actually pursuing it? How do I go from knowing that boundaries are essential for my self-preservation to not allowing guilt to make me go back on them? How do I go from knowing that grief is healing to actually sitting with it?

There is one thing I know for sure. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” You can resist the flow of life, but all that does is keep you living in resistance, going against the current of being alive. Embracing the only constant in life eases your transformation into the person you are meant to be—the most authentic version of yourself.

Life gave me opportunities to try embracing change. And without fail, it will give you opportunities to embrace change. I will tell you my stories in this book, and I hope that they help you feel less alone as you confront your own changes—the changes you choose, the ones you don’t, and the ones you need to make. But first I want to tell you about a moment that brought it all together for me and taught me five truths about change.


1. Change Is Hard Because We Focus So Much on How Hard Change Is Instead of Seeing It as a Path to the Life We Want


Right before I started writing this book, my grandma passed away peacefully in her sleep. She and my grandpa had been together for seventy-five years.

The day after she died, my mom and I and a few family friends were sitting with my grandpa in his front yard, surrounded by all the beautiful flowers my grandma grew over the years. We sat under the same grapevine where I had spent many childhood hours waiting for its bunches to turn from tiny sour green grapes to big juicy drops from heaven. It was always my grandma who made sure my grandpa picked me the exact one I wanted.

We were all engulfed in the big void of her absence. When you lose someone you love, their absence somehow intensifies how their presence would feel.

It was quiet. We could hear the leaves and the wind make the most peaceful symphony that somehow put us all in a trance of feeling as if my grandma were still there. Then moments would come when we would snap back into reality and tears would just start quietly streaming down our faces. My grandpa’s tears carved two streets on his cheeks for his grief to express itself. He had been quietly crying, but this time he said out loud, “How am I going to live without you, my best friend?” A family friend, who I am sure had the best intentions, said, “It’s not good to cry. It’s like you’re saying that you don’t accept God’s will.”

As I was ready to leap in with my speech on grief that went something like He is grieving. Let him love her and think of her the way he wants, my grandpa looked at her. He pointed to a light pole in front of the yard and said, “You see that light pole over there? There were two birds that would come and rest at the top of it every day. One day, one of them flew a bit too low and a stray cat ate it.”

He pointed with his finger to the place where it happened.

Then he said, “The other bird still comes here and rests at the top of that pole, facing the exact direction where its partner was killed.”

He took a deep pause and said, “If a bird can get sad over another bird, why do you say I can’t get sad over the woman I loved for seventy-five years? My best friend.”

Goosebumps. Right?

Everyone went quiet. We went back to the sound of the leaves being the only sound any of us could hear.

Regardless of how my grandpa felt, he understood one thing very well: grieving someone is loving them the way you’d love them if they were still here. Even though that love has nowhere to go, you allow yourself to feel it. You allow yourself to miss them and spend time replaying your memories with them. You honor the love you have for them by giving it space within you when it visits.

My grandpa, now in his nineties, wanted to make sure he greeted every person who came to pay their respects. My uncle approached him at one point and told him to go rest and that my uncle and aunts would make sure to welcome everyone. He vehemently refused. He said, “She waited for me every day of her life. I can’t wait a couple more hours until everyone who came for her leaves?”

That’s love. He was loving her in her absence. He was loving her without any expectation of reciprocation or reward for that love. He was loving her the way he knew she would feel loved. Doing what you know would make your beloved feel loved is love.

As sad as I was, I couldn’t help but be in awe of that love. Isn’t that what we all want? Someone to love us that way, with that dedication and commitment?

That’s the kind of love I always knew I wanted, but it seemed to be only reserved for novels and movies. I had never before seen it around me.

In that moment, I started imagining a life where I would have that kind of love.

And that’s when everything fell into perspective. I started seeing my life as one big, connected timeline of events with a beginning and end. And to get to the life I wanted, I had to start making changes to the things in between, to align them with my desired reality.

To have a life that contains that kind of love, I had to be willing to make changes that would make that possible. In that moment, I shifted my focus from change in and of itself to the life that that change would lead to and open space for.

Boom.

This, of course, eased my feelings around change because it skipped over the part where I actually undergo the change. Because that’s the hard part. Isn’t it?

Maybe change is hard because we focus so much on achieving the change itself instead of focusing on what that change will achieve for us. It’s like we are challenging ourselves to prove that we can do it. When you fight with yourself for your worth, it’s an ugly battle. When your focus is, “Can I actually do this?” instead of “I am working toward this,” you are making your ability to reach the goal mean something about you. You are likely to judge yourself based on your accomplishment of the goal or how far you’ve progressed and how far you still have to go. When you stop seeing change as the goal and start seeing change as the path to the life you want, that’s when authentic transformation happens.

About the Author

Najwa Zebian
Dr. Najwa Zebian, Ed.D., is a Lebanese Canadian activist, author, speaker, and educator with a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Dr. Zebian began to write in an effort to connect with and heal her first students, a group of young refugees, but found that she was also writing to heal herself. In her first book, Welcome Home, she presented a guide for people to become a safe space for themselves, to see themselves through their own eyes, and to leave self-abandoning patterns behind.
 
The author of three collections of poetry, Dr. Zebian delivered the TEDx talk “Finding Home Through Poetry” and recently launched a digital school, Soul Academy, and a podcast, Stories of the Soul. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Glamour, Elle Canada, HuffPost, and more. More by Najwa Zebian
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