Do We Make Transitions, Or Do Transitions Make Us?
I'm cheating a little with this one. I published this blog post just over two years ago for a writing group that I was a part of at the time. It was written two months into the start of what was an important year for me. I was transitioning between careers. Transitioning between married life and being single. Transitioning between my twenties and thirties. Transitioning between who I thought I should be and who I actually was.
Perhaps these words felt easier to write at the time because, deep down, I believed the transition was going to be over in a few months. My feet would find stable ground once again. I would know exactly which path I was taking, and that certainty would bring me peace. But the universe taught me a beautiful lesson, because by Christmas of 2015 I was even less sure of what path was ahead of me and I had no choice (believe me, I looked) but to surrender to the uncertainty of it.
Perhaps that is why I am here. Over two years later, making the conscious decision to fling myself back into a transitional state. I am leaving a stable job for insecurity. I am taking a risk that I never thought I was capable of. What did I learn about transition two years ago? That, like the autumn season, it is beautiful. It is necessary. And that we can always count on it.
Originally published October 9, 2015
Now that Fall is steadily under way in Charlotte, it's an especially opportunistic time to reflect on how transitional periods affect us - and what that effect does to us in the long run.
It would be nice to think that we have control over every transition in our lives, including moving to a new city, ending a relationship, or changing career paths. But that's obviously not true. Sometimes, we end up gripping onto something (a person, a job, a place) with just our fingernails for years yet still feel a sickening loss when it is no longer an option to reach out to. Aren't we tired of clinging to something with just our fingernails? Shouldn't we be relieved to have let go, or to have it remove itself from the equation altogether? We rarely are. And even in a few clear moments, we may know that it's for the best, that we made the right decision, or that our lives will be better in the long run - it's still uncomfortable facing the rockiness that results in its wake.
Transitional periods have to occur. We know this. Just as Fall has to happen in order for Winter to be born, and then Spring to give birth into Summer. But we still want to rush through it. Make things "normal" again. Find a balance. The inbetween-ness is too raw. It shows us who we are, and sometimes that's not a pretty picture. We could argue that we are not ourselves during transitional periods, that we are just "going through a rough time," or "I just gotta get through the next few days/weeks," and then we will be whole again. Yet, what if this time - the time we're always rushing to get through - is actually the best part? Uncomfortable? Yes. Scary? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely. Too many of us (myself included) rush the transition. It's not a fun place to be. We don't know how we're going to feel from one moment to the next. In the morning we may be optimistic and happy about this new change, but by mid-afternoon we're questioning the entire existence of the universe.
Questions are good. Uncertainty is life. We know this in a general way, yet we still continue to fight it. Even though, really, we shouldn't ever be so arrogant as to fight what is as natural as Summer turning into Fall. We've been through small and large transitions before, and smaller and larger ones will happen again. We rush it because we assume we are in the middle of something that is not our "normal" and not who we are or who we want to be. But isn't that the most beautiful part? When we look at ourselves one day and think, "Huh, I am not who I was two months ago." After all, people travel to this part of the country from all over the world not to see the bare trees of winter, or the green lushness of summer - but to see the always different and always mesmorizing transition of summer greens to autumn golds, reds and yellows.
It's only lasts a short time, but we are always a little sad (and rightfully so) when it is gone and has returned to a more "stable" state.
That - I think - says something.