How To Change Despite Your Feelings

First, relinquish your role as Manager of the Universe

Jodi Barnes, PhD
6 min readJan 25, 2020


David called to say he and his wife were back from visiting our daughter and her family over the MLK weekend. Technically, David is my ex-husband; more accurately, he is my friend.

There was once a time when our true friendship, post divorce, didn’t exist. No animosity, just what I’d call our readjustment years. Getting past our past roles and creating new ones that worked better for us, for our daughters and our spouses.

Before the call ended, I asked how our 17-year-old granddaughter was doing. I knew she’d been accepted to two universities and was waiting to hear about Chapel Hill. “I think she’s signed an apartment lease close to a technical college and plans to go there for a year.”

My heart sunk a little.

The danger of beliefs, based on feelings

Later that night, I investigated my little heart sink. Why did my body respond with disappointment and a little sadness? Hadn’t I been down this road, learned some relevant lesson before?

Our first-born (same granddaughter’s mother) had taken a different path at 17. She’d given birth to our granddaughter and soon began to work, delaying college despite a virtually perfect SAT score.

Although our daughter’s life has not been one I envisioned, the one I felt (thus, knew) was best for her, she is living proof that there are myriad ways to accomplish anything. That a diploma at 22 years old, a wedding at 28, two planned offspring and a VP of something at 35 is not the only path forward. Certainly not the sole route to meaning or happiness. Or success… whatever that might mean to each of us.

I did some mom things pretty well, but what I most regret is giving my daughter streams of unsolicited, narrow-minded (and fearful) advice about how she should live her life. Not only when our granddaughter was born, but for another 11 years. My pontificating did not stop all at once. It still finds its way out of my mouth from time to time.

But this regret has a silver lining. I’ve learned that some lessons are transferable: Regardless of my role doing anything, it’s not my job to be the



Jodi Barnes, PhD

Writer and Collaborator-in-Chief of where small acts of writing, art and conversation create multicultural connections for good.