Remember when you were younger and knew everything? Wasn’t that nice?

Little did we know then that if we were paying any attention at all, we soon would cross an invisible line in the sand, after which we’d know a lot less about everything. To be honest, I think I prefer it here on this side, where I am more curious and amazed by life and this world.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I remember wondering why some of the adults I knew seemed so staunchly devoted to not changing their style. There were mom jeans aplenty and they had definitely not come back into fashion yet. There were perms and eyeshadow and hairstyles that were dated by the number of years of family pictures in the hallway in which everyone who was getting taller changed but the adults didn’t. You know the photos I’m talking about.

A couple of years ago, I needed a new pair of jeans and when I went to buy them (same brand as always), I realized that I’d been wearing the same style of jeans for a long time, and that it seemed strange that denim style hadn’t changed in what felt like a pretty long time. In my infinite wisdom, I picked up a few extra pairs of skinny jeans, in case the denim apocalypse struck and I had no other option. Now I have a stockpile. I’d like you to know that I both feel reassured and embarrassed by this fact.

Now, I’m not saying I’m clairvoyant, but it turns out my premonition was correct, because recently there was a brief and unimportant style war in which the younger generation called out the Millennials on social media for refusing to abandon their skinny jeans and side-parted hair. I’m not a Millennial, but I’m also guilty as charged.

I’m an eighties baby, so I’ve been through quite a few trend cycles, many of which I think would be better relegated to history’s What Not To Wear files. And I, like every generation before me, find myself watching “the kids” with some bemusement and chagrin while I realize that I wore the “current” trend some 25 years earlier, while I staunchly refuse to get on the bandwagon.

I like my skinny jeans. They are comfortable and go with all my shoes, which is my favourite part of any outfit. So I’m keeping my jeans tight, though Adam says it’s just a matter of time until I cave and buy a pair of the new style, like he thinks he knows me (he does).

So this is how it happens. This is when I start to be technically out of style. Interestingly, I find myself not really caring. So I suppose this is how that happens, too.

By the way, I have since acquired a couple of pairs of non-skinny jeans, so I guess Adam does know me after all. I went to a straight-leg cut and a carpenter pant. They’re very comfortable and they don’t look awful. I’m not ditching my skinnies, but much to my own great surprise, I’ve relaxed my objections to styles I wore in junior high school.

So there it is. <>

Why am I talking about jeans? Well, partly because we all wear them, but also because I’m not just talking about jeans. I don’t particularly care what anyone thinks about my choice in trousers, but I do find the conversation intriguing if we look at it not from the lens of style, but the lens of how we feel about change. I think it’s really a reflection of our human nature and how we relate to changing our minds (or jeans, sure).

If we’re not careful, as we age we can become more rigid in our thinking. It’s totally fine—good, even—to know your preferences, but as we grow older, we naturally become more resistant to new ideas and change in general. After all, we’ve held the other ideas for a long time, fitting our world into that well-worn view.

Change can upset a precariously balanced apple cart, and the older we get, the more apples we tend to have collected in that cart and the bigger the mess when it’s all upset.

But what happens when we are ready for change? It can be hard to allow ourselves to change our jeans, let alone our minds. It can feel vulnerable, like dropping part of our identity. It might feel like surrendering, giving up or giving in, or even losing. And that’s a hard place to find ourselves. If we change our opinion, it might feel like we’re admitting we were incorrect. “If I wear different jeans, they’ll know I’ve caved, and that they were right and I was wrong.”

Maybe you think changing your mind it makes you flakey or unreliable. Maybe you feel that way about other people when they change their minds about things.

But the thing is, you are under no obligation to remain the same, and neither is anyone else, for that matter.

We don’t expect a tree to remain the same forever; it changes because it’s growing. And so are we, when we allow ourselves to review our thoughts and beliefs, either because they aren’t serving us anymore, or because new information has become available.

Maybe changing our minds isn’t a sign of weakness or flakiness, but rather a sign of a growth mindset and the strength, courage and resilience required to learn and change.

Your decision to change—your opinion, your mind, your jeans—isn’t anyone’s business but your own. Sure, there might be an impact from you changing your mind, but no one is really keeping track of your opinions in order to make sure you don’t change them ever. I mean, maybe that’s the case if you’re a politician or public figure, but the good and bad news in that scenario is that you’re damned either way, whether you choose to change or remain the same.

Most of us, though, are not politicians or public figures. Most of our choices and changes of opinion will not make the front page, let alone be as interesting to anyone else as they are to ourselves. Most of us, most of the time, feel like we can’t change our mind because of what we think that means about us, not because of what others think it means about us. Using the fear of other people’s judgments to keep ourselves from changing is a bit of a scapegoat for addressing our own judgments about ourselves, which is the real issue.

If you really are worried about what people will think if you choose to change your mind about something, it might be worth taking a look at how you feel about people who choose to change theirs.

That game is called “you spot it, you got it.”

This means that if you have a problem with other people changing their minds or their jeans (or what have you), you’ll probably feel more resistance to changing your own. If you write other people off as flakey for their choices, you’ll likely prefer to stay pretty rigidly between the lines of your own, lest you yourself become an unreliable flake.

All of that is totally fine, as long as it serves you and creates the experience of life you’re seeking. If not, then you might want to update your software. You know how, if you don’t update your devices, they start to get a little slow and buggy? Running on old systems without updating them to use the new information and technical changes that address problems means you have a frustrating time with your laptop and phone. They won’t work as well as they could. The same is true of us when we don’t update our own internal software (thoughts, beliefs, ideas and opinions). We get a little slow and interactions become more challenging.

Remember, staying the same is as much a choice as making a change.

What if you were under no obligation to remain the same, and neither were they?

How differently might you feel about some of the issues that frustrate you if you were allowed to change your mind as necessary and grow as desired?