Monday | My story
Like you, I’ve been through many transitions in my life. Some of these were momentous moments, filled with emotion, expectation and forever etched in my brain. Some of these points for me were decisions. Deciding, at age 6, that from a certain morning onwards that I would make my own lunch. I felt so independent, confident, and proud of myself. True, I may have eaten more than my fair share of strass and tomato sauce sandwiches, but I loved it! My mum had one rule, I couldn’t have 100s and 1000s. Seemed fair. So, I transitioned from needing my parents help, to having a go myself and I had support in this transition phase.
Other transitions were noticed much more by others – parents, grandparents, family, teachers, guides, mentors, coaches and friends. When these people noticed my transition and commented on it, it was usually filled with happiness, pride, and a sense of achievement. This helped build my self-esteem and self-confidence in many ways. Receiving the respect of a role model for stepping beyond my comfort zone, or for outgrowing my current space was always something I will remember.
Many of my ‘transitions’ were referred to as either verbally or written as:
learning, growing, expanding, seeking, confidence, ‘now ready for’, taking the next step, moving up a level, helping others and so on.
Rarely would the word transition have been used.
Primarily this word is used for major life transitions, such as starting school, high school or transitioning to university and beyond. Certainly, the first ‘real’ job after university is a major transition that nothing can really prepare you for!
In my four years studying at Monash University, I was invited to speak to Year 12 students on Orientation Day or in their schools, about ‘how to’ transition. This transition involves so much growing up! Responsibility plus is how I would phrase it. Part-time jobs, lectures, timetables, turning up, research, relationships, assignments, exams, life. My key message was around balance and ensuring you had fun, but not too much that you couldn’t do what you were there to do. It seemed to hit a chord with teachers perhaps more than the students. I mean, how can you really know, until you experience it?
Some transitions are universal and could be referred to as a rite of passage, such as sitting up, rolling over, having solid food, learning to talk, walk, being able to swim, going to school, becoming a teenager, and going through puberty, moving from young adolescence into young adulthood with all the joys and perils that brings.
Some of my major transitions are caught up in worldwide statistics:
birth of a child
Choosing a transition
When I chose to make a life transition from being married to not being married, the weight of other people’s expectations, feelings and judgements was heavy, even stifling. My entire adult identity was caught up in being a partner to someone else, another half, thinking of someone else’s needs and walking to the beat of their drum.
In transitioning to a life that was my own, it took me quite some time. I needed stepping stones and my choices and coping mechanisms weren’t always healthy or empowering, but I did get there. And then literally one balmy night, while driving along with the roof down on my Mini Cooper listening to Survivor by Destiny’s Child, I felt exhilarated that I had made that transition and I knew I had reached the next point when I embraced my new identity as a single person. And boy, did I love it! A memorable moment as you can see.
Grief a catalyst for transition
This transition was also tied to some major losses in my life, with the death of my dad and all four grandparents. This is also another statistic, but no one likes to speak about grief impacting major life changes very much, particularly divorce. Transitioning to a life without all these important people is an ongoing reality, where it is only in looking back to tell part of this story that I realise in how many ways I have made this transition. In coping with my grief, I am proud to say that I did everything I could to help myself and made many positive choices that I am proud of.
You are a witness
Watching other people’s transitions can be marvelous or heat-breaking. I have witnessed other peoples delight at conquering something important to them to transition into being able to masterfully do an activity without thought. I have also seen the decline in health of loved ones, knowing that their next transition is life’s biggest unknown. Some great transitions that I have delighted in also include helping people work through their own grief to come to a point where they can breathe again, cope with life in a more fulfilling way and transition into the next chapter of their lives.
The forgotten transitions
Many transitions no one seems to notice until it’s happening, and you take a moment to look back. These forgotten or missed transitions can be so important. They can act as a guide for how to cope in future transitions. In reviewing how you felt, how you spoke, acted, engaged with others and importantly, your own self talk, for it can reveal a toolbox of skills you didn’t know you had. If the toolbox is lacking, then time to fill it up!
You are the pendulum
To me, transition is like a pendulum. You will swing across a point to see where you might want to be or where you might want to go, and then you’re likely to swing back a little. This can go back and forth for a period (or happen quite quickly!), until your pendulum reaches a new point of equilibrium and you are in a new starting point; until the pendulum swings again!
I have transitioned from being single, into a committed relationship, to being a step-mother to a mum, maternity leave, changing vocation, heading back to work, from being unhealthy to more healthy and more! Like you, I’m working on many transitions, some major, others not so much, but all require a positive mindset, self-compassion and an ability to acknowledge that transition takes mental, emotional and physical energy.
I don't 'goal set' anymore
You might call some of this goal-setting, but for me it’s about following inspired thought and seeing where that takes me, because sometimes I don’t know best, but my inner guidance system does!
So for 2022, whatever your transition, I wish you the very best as you write some new chapters in your book of life.