Change is in the air. Children have grown over the summer and are starting the new school year a little more grown up. The promise of sunny, brisk days makes many of us excited to breakout hoodies and sweaters. Fall foliage soon will begin to show the colorful signs of a new season, and in coffee shops or local co-ops across the state the conversation has turned to football.

The theme of these conversations has been uncertainty, a mix of nerves and excitement. The legacy and family Kansas State University coach Bill Snyder spent his career building will not be lost overnight. Coach Klieman has a promising record but is unproven in big leagues. What will our team look like under new leadership?

Within my own K-State family, the start of football season had an extra layer of emotion this year. It was the first tailgate without a beloved member of our group. As we gathered in Manhattan, we had plenty of reasons to be optimistic: a fresh season of football, the joy of tailgating and great friends to share in the fun. However, there was the subtle tone of sadness that can be felt when something is missing.

That is the hard part about change; it means you are losing something. Sometimes that loss is big like a loved one or our trusted coach and other times it is smaller like missing the ease of a habit or the annoying feeling that comes from not being able to complete a task in your preferred way. This loss can make us sad, bitter, resentful, heartbroken, mad or hateful.

The other hard thing is, amidst all the negative emotions, understanding that you also gain something with every change.

I experienced my first truly life-altering experience when I was 13. My 16-year-old brother died in a car accident, and it was heartbreaking. Everything in my life changed: relationships with family and friends, appreciation for community and religion, attitude and outlook on life.

Time and maturity have allowed me the perspective to understand how my brother’s death fundamentally altered me. I now know I am strong enough to survive the grief of loss.

That might seem simple, but it is a pivotal paradigm shift. In your greatest moment of grief and fear, if you know you will survive, it totally changes your outlook and actions. You move from, “How can I go on?” to “How will I go on?”

Change always gives us something new. When we make up our minds to embrace the new, opportunities will present themselves. Maybe a new job would make you happier. Changes to a traditional community event could get more people involved. The new football coach is definitely going to bring some great changes to the program. An open and positive mindset makes it easier to get excited about changes.

I no longer fear change because I am always looking for the opportunities it presents. I often find myself asking the big, important questions: What is not working? How can this be better? Where do we go from here?

Sometimes the answers to these questions will fill you with enthusiasm and excitement. Other times they will make your heart sink because change cost you something dear. That’s OK; something good will happen that you don’t know about yet.

Change is inevitable. Change is uncomfortable. Change is good.