“You’re entering deeper levels with me, darling.”
Frankly, I was throwing a temper tantrum. I was angry, stomping around in the woods, trying to figure out where this pent up anger was coming from and why it was struggling to be released.
People—you and me included—always want to know what’s next in someone’s life, as if one ending of a season means a poetic and sometimes tragic ending to a storybook and an elaborate beginning to another.
But life and its seasons don’t often wrap up in such clean cut ways. It’s not like you can just put one book on the shelf and pull off the next one, ready to go for whatever the “once upon a time” of a new place will throw at you.
Yet we still act as though it will be so.
What I’ve discovered, both in others and myself, is we don’t talk about transition. You find out a friend is moving to India, and your mind automatically begins counting down how much longer they’re in your life, physically, to when they’re actually in India, living and doing. But rarely do we think, let alone ask, about the in-between of here to there.
It’s a no man’s land, and no one likes it. Transition. Some people may like change, but I am almost certain they don’t like the transitions that come with it.
So stomping around in the woods—however uncharacteristic of me it was—makes sense. And hearing those words also makes sense, because wading into deeper, more raw spaces with God isn’t exactly playing around in the shallow end of a pool. Nope, it’s the dark depths of the “deep end,” the scary spaces I avoided as a child because my imagination and fear of sharks got the best of me.
That’s how it feels entering into transition—almost more deep and unknown than the future. To be sure, it’s an isolated place, and it’s far too easy to just let yourself drown. But here are some things I’ve learned about transition and how to best prepare for one:
- Can creep up on you.
Sometimes we’re looking so far into the future, or are so content in the here and now, we forget that we need to prepare until we’re sitting in the middle of a panic attack. Transition can seem like it’s coming outta nowhere, because really, how do you enter no man’s land well?
- Brings out all the feelings and insecurities.
Last month you were doing so well: you had a social life, a consistent schedule, you loved your job. Suddenly you’re completely alone, in a new place, waiting for the future to call your name. Or you’re still in your current lifestyle, but the ending is looming. You can’t even focus anymore, yet you try to grasp onto every relationship and control something—anything—before you go crazy.
- Is lonely.
People whom you lived life with aren’t slowing down. They’re not saying goodbye—you are. You’re the one packing bags and taking pictures off the walls, and your roommate is just coming and going like normal. However sad all parties are to see you go, you are the one with a new path ahead, and that’s scary.
So how do you best prepare for a transition?
- Allow yourself unfiltered time.
It can be tempting to just immerse yourself in all social activities, or use people to put off actually thinking about the fears swirling in your head. Make sure you take time to be alone and let it all out. Scream. Stomp in the woods. Get it all out so you’re not stuck in your head.
- Make goals.
Sit down with a friend or mentor and make a game plan. Remember what’s important to you now so you can remind yourself in the middle of the transition when you forget. Act upon your goals.
- Recognize what the real issue is.
It’s easy to shift our own feelings and insecurities on others. Ask yourself: Is your best friend actually making you mad, or are you just anxious about your future without her? Do you need to vocalize your feelings and actually ask to be heard, or are people truly uninterested in you? Sit down and think about what the real problem is—it’s often not as dramatic as our insides like to make it.
Entering deeper spaces is terrifying. Preparing to transition is confusing, heartbreaking, a breath of fresh air, giant leaps of change. It’s okay to have conflicting emotions raging inside. It’s okay to not be sure if going through with the future is the right decision. It’s okay to not understand but to ask for someone to listen.
I need to take my own advice. Let’s practice together, yeah?