Officer’s momentary neophobia cured with quotes

  • Published
  • By Maj. S.J. Brown
  • 934th Airlift Wing process manager
Two of my downfalls are that I've always had a smart mouth that got me in trouble. I also tend to quote people or clichés. Sometimes I multi-task and I quote people with clichés using my smart aleck attitude.

As such, I love quotes and clichés. One of my favorites is, "Things do not change; we change," by Henry David Thoreau. This quote reminds me of another favorite thing of mine ... change.

Growing up in the backwoods of Alabama, things rarely changed to include my very stable, very consistent mother, who used to tell me I changed my mind like I changed my clothes (for a teenage girl, that was a lot). I loved the excitement of newness; always have. To me, change is the opportunity to learn, experience and do fantastic new things. I view change as a chance to put my mark on the world in a new way - my way. To me, that is exciting!

I can't remember a time when I ever suffered neophobia (also known as cainotophobia -- the fear of newness or change). That is until last month. When the opportunity came along for me to career broaden from my beloved public affairs career field into the special-duty process management job, my love-to-change attitude kicked in and I welcomed the chance to learn a new skill set. I needed a career broadening experience to grow and advance so, in my usual fashion, I jumped in feet first. I read books about Lean Six Sigma, asked the current 934th Airlift Wing Process Manager, Lt. Col. C.J. Bentley, for advice, attended Air Force Reserve Command process manager training and talked with other subject matter experts.

I hadn't been in the PM job for a day when my boss asked me a PM question to which I did not have the answer. Panic, fear and confusion set in and I immediately developed neophobia. I thought, "Holy crap, what have I done? I left a job I had been doing for 17 years and was good at (in my own warped mind at least) for this? I know no one in the career field, have little training and am the new kid instead of the seasoned professional that everyone came to solve their PA problems. I want to go back to PA, I want to be comfortable. I want my old office, my old toys and my old ways." This was the first time I can remember suffering neophobia, and I hated it.

After answering the boss with, "I don't know, but I will find out," I scurried to my new, unpacked, cluttered office to find the answer. At that moment, I realized that I wasn't so different than any other of the thousands of Americans who are experiencing change right now. Some are looking for or changing jobs due to the country's economic situation. Some are facing change due to current weather crisis (storms, floods, etc.). Some face change because of family issues (divorce, death, etc.). At that moment, I realized I feared change just like millions of other people. Why? Because change is scary, the unknown can be terrifying and getting out of my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable.

Everyone has their coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Mine is research. I find out everything I can about a topic I am worried about and make a pros/cons list with facts, not fears. The odd thing is, when researching my neophobia, I didn't find much more than the Wikipedia and definitions. But I did run into some insightful, sometimes funny, quotes about change. Reading dozens of these quotes, made me realize that all new things are uncomfortable at first. The real challenge is how you adapt to those changes -- that is the real test of your character. Here are a few of those quotes* I mentioned that eased my mind about my new job transition and any other sudden change in my life, maybe they will help you as changes come into your future:
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~Harold Wilson

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. ~W. Edwards Deming

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~Victor Frankl

The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble. ~Henry Miller

You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler. ~Denis Waitley

If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change. ~John A. Simone, Sr.

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius

Change always comes bearing gifts. ~Price Pritchett

The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. ~Ellen Glasgow

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. ~Faith Baldwin

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them. ~Marcel Proust

Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow. ~Glen Beaman
We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves. ~Lynn Hall

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~Henri Bergson

What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. ~Joan Wallach Scott

If you want to make enemies, try to change something. ~Woodrow Wilson

After you've done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over. ~Alfred Edward Perlman

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing. ~Saint Augustine

We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it. ~John Steinbeck,

A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea. ~John Ciardi

Little stones that are pelted into the lake of consciousness should not throw the whole lake into commotion. ~Paramahansa Yogananda

The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists. ~Japanese Proverb

Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay. ~Matthew Flickstein

The devil could change. He was once an angel and may be evolving still. ~Laurence J. Peter

Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
Tomorrow be today.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There is no reason why the same man should like the same books at eighteen and forty-eight. ~Ezra Pound

Every beginning is a consequence - every beginning ends some thing. ~Paul Valery

It's the most unhappy people who most fear change. ~Mignon McLaughlin

People don't change. Only their costumes do. ~Gene Moore

We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance. ~Harrison Ford

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

No two men ever judged alike of the same thing, and it is impossible to find two opinions exactly similar, not only in different men but in the same men at different times. ~Michel Montaigne

If you want to truly understand something, try to change it. ~Kurt Lewin

Every single thing changes and is changing always in this world. Yet with the same light the moon goes on shining. ~Saigyo

Our only security is our ability to change. ~John Lilly

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. ~Bertold Brecht

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator. ~Francis Bacon

A scholar who loves comfort is not fit to be called a scholar. ~Confucius

*WRITER'S NOTE: All quotes found at