There was a period of time where transition consumed my entire life. Within a month, I had split with my SO, reluctantly left a dead-end job, and moved cities to be closer to family and friends — living alone for the first time in my life. Needless to say, I felt lost. Everything I had grown to know and love had totally left my grasp. A friend of mine told me it was a quarter-life crisis, but I like to see it as a necessary change. A not so friendly wake-up call, if you will.
A transition from anything is tough, and not just for the obvious reasons. Transitions are a challenge because we get so comfortable living life the way it was, making change seems scary. By definition, a transition is a process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Life is about moving on and without transitions, we would never get anywhere. Transitionary periods are inevitable. So since we know this, why is it so hard to accept the things that naturally come and go into our lives? Why do we feel nervous, anxious, unsure, or sad when they happen? Why can’t we just these things be?
“Transitions are a challenge because we get so comfortable living life the way it was -making change seems scary.”
Transitions, both good or bad, impact your mental health whether you consciously realize it or not. Major life events can leave you feeling lost and searching for answers. Naturally, it takes time to adjust to the new way your life looks. Transitions require work and attention. Without it, you wouldn’t benefit nearly as much from them. Luckily, you can make difficult transitions more successful by being mindful of your circumstances. There are ways to make the most of it — and find yourself along the way.
Prepare in advance
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” In my experience — and having lived with minor OCD tendencies — life is easier when you’re prepared. While transitions aren’t always in sight, being as prepared as you can be, puts you in better control of the situation. Ask yourself what you need to do to make this transition easier on yourself. Self-care means preparing and acknowledging what you need during difficult times. Preparation lessens your anxiety and helps you focus on your new chapter in life.
Set realistic expectations and goals
Nobody moves to a new city and automatically learns the lay of the land overnight. You’re going to need GPS. With that in mind, don’t expect to know your new role right away. In a new career, for example, it’s normal to start small and work your way up. When you go through a transition, it’s not healthy thinking nor is it realistic to be an expert right away. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself day one. Happy transitions take time and there’s bound to be a learning curve. You won’t always hit the ground running, and that’s OK.
Seize new opportunities
I’ve found that a better way to see difficult transitions is through the lens of new opportunity. Some people love a fresh start — an opportunity to better themselves. If you’re one of those people, great. If not, I suggest getting there ASAP. During my recent transitions, I realized it was a wake-up call to take care of my mental health. I wasn’t happy for reasons beyond anyone else’s control but my own. And let me tell you, I doubt I would have come to this realization had I not been faced with the transition. Trying times build character, give you a fresh perspective, and make you a stronger person.
Address your feelings
You’re going to experience feelings of anxiousness or depression. It’s inevitable. Be forgiving of yourself when this happens to you. I highly encourage you not to put a timeline on your feelings. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and try being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Surrounding yourself with people who can nurture those feelings may help too. Negative feelings will spike as you move from one chapter to another, and naming these feelings takes back their power over you.
View it as a new chapter
Have you looked back on an old chapter of your life? Chances are, at the moment you felt lost and now you see the reason why it happened in the first place. Take a transition into getting sober, for example. This may mean leaving behind certain habits, places, and people. While it’s difficult to close a chapter in your life, it’s just as important to recognize the aspects of your life that no longer serve you. Change often leads to new and hopeful opportunities. How you view that change it is up to you.
Appreciate the change
Appreciate where you are in the moment and that you’ve grown past your old life. Remember when you’ve gone through transitions in the past. Reflect on what helped you get into the swing of a new routine. Find inspiration from other difficult times in your life. Transitions don’t have to completely suck. They’re not all black and white. Appreciate the gray areas too. Usually, they build character and resilience. Life’s too short to be stuck. Your mental health will thank you.
Change is a part of life. If you start believing that things happen for you rather than to you, you’ll see your circumstances from a more positive perspective. Whether these transitions occur by choice or default, you are mentally strong enough to handle it. To get out of the fog and into your new life.
Grow from it. Learn from it. People, places, and things come and go. Embrace the discomfort because it’s taking you where you’re meant to go. What you’ve been through is preparing you for where you’re headed. Become aware of your transitions and know they’re a simple fact of life.
Because life isn’t about experiencing only the good transitions — it’s about experiencing all of them. And thriving when you do.
Originally published at medium.com