By Natalie Mahoney | Public affairs coordinator, PolicyWorks

I’ve never been a big fan of change. From an early age, change meant something different, something new, something out of my normal routine. It terrified me to know that one day I could be enjoying my life, then boom, the switch flipped.

As many may say, change is inevitable. I too had to experience big changes such as switching schools constantly, graduating from college, getting married and buying a home. While change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the adjustment period can often be harder for some, which ultimately left a bad taste in my mouth. Unfortunately, this bad taste in my mouth also extended to simple changes such as moving furniture around or ordering something different at a restaurant. I couldn’t get past the concept of something different in front of me.

I started working at my new job in early 2019. The first thing I noticed was that one of the company’s core values was to embrace change. Because I love my job and the company, I did try my best to slowly integrate that value into my lifestyle. However, I still didn’t connect to it 100%. It wasn’t until this spring that I truly recognized the importance of that core value.

COVID-19 came to Iowa in late March. With the virus came immense anxiety, the closing of businesses, canceled events, separation from the people we love seeing every day. This change hit on a global scale. Naturally, my stomach dropped. This was going to be a complex change I didn’t see coming.

Due to COVID’s reach internationally, I wasn’t alone in this "new normal." Thousands across the state, the nation and the world quickly needed to adjust and prepare for this. Whether that be wearing masks, rescheduling events or working remotely, all of us had to embrace change regardless of whether we liked it or not.

In these hard times, I found comfort that a majority of us have managed to keep going, to keep fighting. That is the only way to recover from all of this. It finally hit me after 25 years that change is required for growth. We cannot adjust without learning the ropes and feeling uncomfortable. How can we be better? How can we be stronger? How can we be more knowledgeable? Through change.

While the virus was both unexpected and quite catastrophic, we learned to be more united globally. That being said, on a personal level, I learned that the only way forward is to accept what is in our present and embrace the changes to come.

Natalie Mahoney is the public affairs coordinator for PolicyWorks, assisting clients with public affairs, public relations and grassroots advocacy. She is a board member for the nonprofit organization Iowans for Adoption, a 2019 Iowa Innovation Group graduate and a proud Les Mills BODYPUMP fitness instructor. She lives in Johnston with her engineer husband, Ben, and enjoys walks with her rescue dog, Ivy. Contact her via email.