Moving Through: Lessons on Transitions
By Jen Kubalak
Transitions; ugh! It already sounds like so much work. I’m already noticing how my story about being in transition feels painful.
As soon as something in some aspect in my life shifts & I really prove to myself that I can roll with it, that I can handle it and that I can thrive in my current environment, some other aspect feels like it’s shifting and changing its course the moment after I feel settled. This is the moment where I take a leap from my growth edge & dive into my next challenge. For me, it can be mucky, it can be terrifying & it can feel lonely.
Transitioning from my “normal” to a “new normal” feels scary because I’m feeling overwhelmed, sad because there is a loss, challenging when it’s something I’ve never done before and exciting because I know how far I’ve come and how far I could potentially grow. The truth is, life is constantly & consistently full of the unknowns. It amazes me every time that I think I can control a situation or outcome. At the same time, it can be a relief to go with the flow & let someone else be in charge or even surrender to what will be. I find that it feels harder to surrender and trust when I’m starting out in something new, or trying to find myself and ground during a transition time. It is absurd to have high expectations about being good at or being perfect at a transition, as if this is possible and yet I know these are the expectations I set for myself.
What I’m really feeling is a fear of messing up or the sadness that comes with wanting to give up. For me, my own feelings of inadequacy rise to the surface when new territory hasn’t been explored yet, and when I am not sure if I’m fully committed to the change. Transitions require me to be honest with myself about how I’m adapting. I think my biggest obstacle during a transition is the idea that I need to be perfect to be accepted. I’ve been in dialogue with this idea for a little while now, and it turns out that I hold some significant expectations for myself that aren’t always in alignment with my best interest in the long run. These expectations of mine aren’t representing who I really am, authentically from moment to moment.
A transition can be as simple as moving from moment to moment or as complex as losing a beloved animal. Adaptation is what happens in transition and it might always look and feel a little different. As a play Therapist, I am guiding children & their families through the process of transformation while I am also having my own process through the stages.
The best example I have that has so many parallel experiences for me is dog training. I have been training with my dog’s behavior since January and let me tell you; from the start, I wanted my trainer to do all of the work! But as I’ve learned, I am investing in myself. I am going to have these skills too by the end and I am going to feel empowered more that I ever could if he just did it for me- and again as if this might be possible, right!? I am five months in and it has been a series of transitions!! So much not good enough and so many levels that we bump up on each week! We are always shifting! I will always be in cycles of growth as long as we, my dog Meraki and I, are increasing our communication between the two of us. I’m learning about relationship. I’m understanding so much more on deepening levels. I’m really expanding.
Growing up, I can think of rituals or traditions that hold a sense of steadiness as changes were happening all around. I think this was the start of an inspiration for tracking and the start of my lists and spread sheets that mark my progress over time. I’m always looking forward to measuring okay in six months, “I am going to be back in this place, or doing this thing”- which allows the planning to feel like a sense of security, even though no one really knows what could happen that far ahead.
Another hard part about transitions is the goodbye. While saying goodbye means a hello in another direction, having to stop, end and say goodbye to the way things were is really hard. I feel very sad when I have to say goodbye. It can feel like I want to cry or be sad forever. Saying goodbye hurts. And again, there goes the surrendering to what is and the trusting that has to take place in order for me to accept myself for who I am, even in the thick of movement.
Moving through. Transitioning. Instead of avoiding the movement through, I challenge myself each time to notice the magic that has room to grow in the in-between. I want to increase my awareness for what happens during the blink from one thing to the next. This may even be my practice for life! A friend shared “Honor the space between no longer & not yet.” What a beautiful way to embrace the change and still feel how it feels around that too. And remember, you are so important! Remember to honor who you are, even through the messiness of transition, even if it’s not where you hope to eventually be.
You are on a journey, a path and perhaps a mission. You needed to have certain stepping stones in order for you to receive the lessons needed to encompass where you are now. See yourself for each step of the way and know that you’ve earned it! I know, for me, being honest with myself has been the biggest froth edge. You are where you are because you’ve had the courage to get this far. Let’s do it!