Transitions are moments in time where change occurs, where adaptation is required, and growth necessary.
The word “transition” definitely sums up my life these past five months. Transitions have occurred in at least three realms of my life: personally , academically, and occupationally.
Personally, these five months have been the most difficult and rewarding period of my life. The difficulty stems from witnessing my grandfather’s death in March due to pancreatic cancer. The grieving and loss my family endured, and continue to experience, have not left our hearts. The emptiness we feel will remain to be with us as we recall heartwarming memories of him, and wish for his presence as we move on to experience major life events. On the other hand, the rewarding moments center around moving from Los Angeles back to Northern California and beginning my career as a social worker. In addition to the eight hour move, I have also experienced and revisited joy in the special relationships that remain close to my heart.
I believe in order for someone to know what happiness and joy feels like, one must know sadness and grief.
Academically, I graduated with my masters. Completing my masters degree was not solely reliant upon writing 24 page papers or attend class. The achievement of earning my degree also involved developing lifelong friendships, searching for the person I wanted to become, and learning how to remove myself from negative relationships.
Occupationally, I experienced the ideal outcome of the job searching process: I accepted a job offer at an amazing non-profit agency as a wraparound social worker. The process and preparation that it took for me to receive this job offer began in November 2013. I utilized LinkedIn (professional version of Facebook), spoke with colleagues and mentors to learn how they approached and managed the job searching process, joined seven job search engines (i.e. Monster, Career Builder, and more), and made numerous versions of my resume and cover letter. I also researched organizations and agencies I was interested in working for in Northern California. As I believe, my preparation met opportunity perfectly: I received an invitation for my first, and then my second, interview. In April 2014, I happily accepted my position. Before May 2014, I was an intern who wanted to be challenged clinically in order to provide the best care possible to the adults I interacted with weekly. Now, I have the ability to continue touching lives of families and witnessing their unrelentless resiliency.
Below are my three tips for surviving the transitions in life:
1) Plan for what you can control, let go of what you can’t control.. while remaining flexible and open to change.
This step has been a challenging one for even myself to understand sometimes.
No matter how much I may plan for or anticipate an event, reality may be something entirely different. I’ve recently realized that creating a plan typically looks like a guideline of what I want to do, in order to allow myself flexibility. The flexibility that I allow in my plan allows life to occur. For instance, we can NOT control the people in our lives, we can (sometimes) NOT control the timeline of events, and we can NOT fast forward our personal growth, regardless of how much we want something to happen immediately. While you ‘wait’, please provide yourself with the allowance to enjoy life, take a break, practice self-care, and have some fun.
I have also found that having a positive perspective about change is helpful in living through a life transition or in making a big decision. I am not saying to ignore the “negative”. What I mean is to reframe an unprefered situation into one that highlights opportunity for growth and learning. For instance, my move back to Northern California was part of my plan. However, I was anxious for the new chapter of my life. After I acknowledged feeling anxious and a bit scared, I remembered that moving back to Northern California would allow me to be closer to my family and live in a new city.
2) Remain aware of your priorities and goals.
In addition, take deep breaths… alot. Remaining mindful of your priorities (whether they be family or graduation) will provide you with motivation to continue pursuing your goals even when the transitions become overwhelming.
3) Draw upon others’ experiences and mistakes. Learn from them.
Connect or reconnect with someone you trust that has survived a similar transition and inquire about how they prepared, made decisions about their action steps. Utilizing the people in your life or even finding new mentors can assist in easing any anxiety you may experience. Also, it is wonderful to learn from others’ mistakes because then you can save yourself time and energy from making the same mistake.
All in all, life can be crazy, overwhelming, but also fun and memorable. As a mentor told me, “allow yourself to walk through the fire because after you walk through [the fire], you will be a stronger person”.