Dealing with change

It’s been quite a long time since my years began in September and ended in May. But for most of my life, that was the case.
First as a student and two short stints as a teacher. Then, after a 25-year hiatus, as a student again. And for many years, as the wife of a college professor.
So I know a lot about graduations.
Some graduations are memorable, such as the one when I unexpectedly received an award for the highest mark in my high school on the New York Regents exam in economics.
And the one when I had a moment of panic when I realized my name wasn’t on the graduation program.
I can’t remember which graduation it was, but remember how I coped. I decided that if they didn’t call my name, I would just march up and receive someone else’s diploma.
After all, it wasn’t my mistake!
And I especially remember the sadness when I graduated from college.
My best friends all came from other states. As we scattered, I knew how much I would miss the camaraderie and how unlikely it was that we would see each other often.
That’s the way endings are. Often sad and often final. And graduation is a very important ending.
But endings always mean change, which brings beginnings. Graduation, for instance, usually means new friends, new work, a new place of residence, and sometimes living in a different part of the country or the world.
Those are huge changes and hard changes to make.
In his book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” William Bridges says that “change brings both opportunities and turmoil.”
No one knows that better than recent graduates. They have fulfilled one goal and are moving to the next challenge with both excitement and trepidation.
Actually, that’s the way life works for everyone. Change and transition are part of life from the day we are born until the day we die.
Whether a recent graduate or a recent retiree, an older person moving to a retirement community or a person dealing with a health crisis, it makes no difference. Change is change—and is rarely easy!
But how we deal with change impacts the quality of our lives.
Bridges makes an important distinction between “change” and “transition.” He says, ”Change is external, transition is internal.”
Change happens to us. But we are in charge of the transitions we make to the next stage of life.
A transition is a process we have to go through to come to terms with change. A process that requires us to let go of the old and begin doing new things.
It’s very hard. But it is imperative!
So, when changes come (as they will), give yourself time to grieve your loss. If the changes are especially hard ones, expect a time of disorientation or, as Bridges calls it, “some time in the wilderness.”
Your time in the wilderness will be a time of anxiety, worry, and disorientation as you try to make sense of your new reality. But remember, you are strong and you’ll come through it.
And, as Bridges says, change always brings not only turmoil, but also opportunities. Make sure you don’t miss those new opportunities and fun!
Write Marie Snider at thisside60@cox.net

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