“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather
I thought about this while emptying my most current apartment and jam-packing my tiny caravan for something like the twenty-seventh time. Despite my general acceptance of change and transient living, saying goodbye to a once foreign, now familiar place, supportive community equipped with a built-in berth of belonging, and a job I truly felt passionate about and devoted to, was a clumsily reluctant and bittersweet process. As with most transitions in our lives, this one granted an unexpected encounter with a concerto of overwhelming emotion and sorrow. Here’s a few ways to keep your cool during these poignant and confounding cessations so you don’t end up like me, avoiding your feelings, and publicly blubbering silent tears onto your yoga mat during savasana.
Remind Yourself of Why You’re Making a Change
It’s easy to nostalgically reminisce on our soon-to-be past through the seductive haze of rose-colored glasses or to experience anxiety ranging from the small jitters to paralyzing fear varieties. Change can be equal parts thrilling and utterly terrifying. That’s why it can lead us to uncertainty and second-guessing, feverishly demanding the opinions of others and internally inquiring whether we’re actually making the right choice. Did I think this through enough? Act too quickly or impulsively? Am I going to be happy in this new place/job/relationship/etc?
Phew. It can be exhausting. So take a breath, and remember that you’re making a change for a reason. It’s likely that something or things, aren’t working, or a small voice in your heart has been pleading with you to live in a way that’s more aligned with your truth, or both. Trust your intuition and honor you decision. If you’ve made it this far and it’s felt good in your gut, then continue to go with it. The beautiful thing about choice is that you can always make another one.
Grieve the Old and Celebrate the New
Cry. Laugh. Scream. Jump around like a crazy person cursing the Gods for forcing the hand of a painful ending or ardently express your eternal gratitude for a shiny, new opportunity. Allow yourself to feel all those ephemeral, lurking emotions, desirable and uncomfortable, as both are authentic and important aspects of your transition. It’s difficult to embrace the full spectrum of emotions that can arise from our passage into a new chapter of life, yet our growth and transformation depend on it. If we are continuously numbing our failures or discomfort, how are we able to regularly experience our triumphs and joy?
Give yourself permission to celebrate your accomplishments, and to also be kind to yourself if you’ve missed the mark. Remember that our lives are always in constant flux and the more we cling, the more likely acceptance and surrender are likely to evade us.
Sometimes, regardless of how prepared we think we are, everything still seems shitty and bleak. That’s OK, (even though it’s not, “OK”) because like everything else, it’s only temporary. Take a deep breath and gather up all of the courage you can muster. If things weren’t difficult or scary, we’d have no need for heroism. Thank yourself for all of the hard work you’ve done so far – and it is hard work, as change often incites leaving our comfort zone and the breaking down and reforging of our sense of self, and step into the unknown.