Sunday, November 28, 2010

Strength to Transition

Despite our best efforts, it seems that the world is in a constant state of transition. At the moment, new leaders are preparing to take office, new screening guidelines are being instituted at airports and a princess-in-waiting is preparing to wear her new tiara.

Transitions are a part of life, and can often be the result of something positive. But even though we know that the new job is a promotion, or the new house is bigger or the new city has more to offer, there will be many great memories and safety associated with the old. So where do we find the courage and patience to battle the insecurities and fear of transitioning into something new? Where do we find the strength?

Several years ago, I worked for a uniform company in Chicago. I learned a tremendous amount from the company and had many great experiences in the city. But after two and a half years of driving to the same office everyday, to face the same challenges, I grew anxious and was ready for something completely new.

I was thirty years old when I quit my job without a clue about what to do next. My action was impulsive, but was sparked by an overwhelming concern that my youth and passions were being stolen by security and fear.

After literally beating my head against a doorframe, I made a decision to move to New York to study writing. I thought it would be easier to become the new me if I was far away from the old. I knew the transition would be painful, but hoped it would be short and quick.

For almost three months, I continued to work at the same job and live in Chicago while I planned my new life. Each day, I crossed a date off of the calendar with great anticipation of my future. The closer I got to my departure though, the more my old self tightened around me.

It wasn’t just a job and city I was leaving. There were relationships, favorite restaurants, Lake Michigan, architectural marvels and Mid-Western knowledge. I was not only departing a place that had captured my heart, but like a family, also made me feel safe and comfortable. Knowing that I was leaving it, made the desire to stay that much stronger.

I thought that once I unloaded the moving truck in Manhattan, all of my doubt and insecurities would be gone. I had physically transitioned, but was mentally stuck somewhere between the old and new, the familiar and strange, the safety and freedom.

While in New York, I never stopped changing. There were many different apartments, jobs and relationships, new doctors, barbers and favorite hangouts, experimental haircuts, clothes and shoes.

It took seven years before I felt like I had arrived in my New York life. Ironically, it was the day I decided to leave. This is when I stopped doubting myself for moving there. It was a long transition process, but it hadn’t completely changed the old me. It had only educated me.

As the end of the year gets closer, we will all be transitioning into something new; we’ll replace calendars, write resolutions, prepare 2011 budgets; we’ll adjust to new members of family and grieve the loss of others; we’ll move into new homes, open new businesses, and fight off the comfort and security of the old as we attempt to grow with the excitement but unknown nature of the new; in other words, we’ll live what’s known as, ‘life.’

There is nothing wrong with being completely happy and content with every aspect of your life. But as the world spins around, change arrives whether we’re ready for it or not. Using pass experiences, knowledge and faith will help us through transitions. Remembering that life is a constant state of learning through living will bring us strength.

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