This time of year it seems that everything is changing. Not just the seasons as we look to summer, but the school year ends, there are graduations, there is gardening to do, barbeques to plan, weddings to celebrate. There are also things changing that we don’t plan for or count on. There are diagnoses given, deaths to grieve, good-byes to say. Change is hard…. Change is good. We hear both of these phrases often, and they both ring true.
I recently spoke to some groups of high school seniors about transitions. Defined, it means the passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another. While they are transitioning to college, literally moving from one place to another, they are moving from one state to another in the figurative sense. From being a high-schooler to a college student. Oftentimes, this means from being a child to being an adult.
We transition from one state to another many times in our lives. Sometimes as simply as making a new decision, re-connecting with someone, or strengthening a bond. Other times more significantly. Our role as the baby in the family might have changed when a sibling was born. Our role as student class president ending with a loss, or our identitly of “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” abrubtly ending with a breakup. Similarly, our role as wife or husband expands to become mother or father. Our role as unemployed becomes breadwinner, or as addict becomes sober. Transitions. Changes.
How well do you cope with change? Coping with change is a theme in most therapy sessions and coping skills are invaluable. Oftentimes, it is the fear of the change that immobilizes us and that the change itself is never as awful as the “what ifs” that surrounded it. Shel Silverstein wrote a poem titled “What if”, Marvel comics published several series titled “What If” exploring the road not traveled by some of their heroes, and in the clinical world, the “what ifs” are another word for worries. Silencing the what ifs is challenging for everyone. Embracing and overcoming change is also challenging, but at the same time, you should ask yourself “what if I am successful/happier/more at peace” once the change and transitions become an event of your past.
Enjoy your summer. Enjoy your transition. Enjoy your change.