By: Rachel Lastinger, Guest Blogger August 30, 2015
At some point in our lives we all go through transition. We will probably go through many. Transition to a new school. Transition to college. Transition to a new city. Transition to a new job.
Right now, I am in the middle of a transition. And I have been for a while. I first transitioned home from living in Ethiopia for 2 years (that move to Ethiopia was quite a transition in itself). Then, after being home in Tulsa for a few months, I transitioned to Atlanta and back into being a student as I pursue my Master’s degree. Lots of transition. I feel like I must be a professional at it by now.
Here are a few things I’ve taken away from it:
1. You’re not alone. In a time of transition, you often feel alone and isolated. This is a false belief. Yes, you will miss your old community, or whatever you transitioned out of. Yes, you may not have that many friends yet. You are not alone, though. You still have those friends, they’re just a little further away. You will also make new friends. It takes time but you’ll make them. I promise.
2. Its ok to make new friends. When I first moved to Atlanta, I felt like I was leaving behind and betraying all of my friends I had made in Oklahoma. Again, false belief. They’re still my friends. They still love me. We still talk regularly. It’s up to you, though, to keep those friendships going. It will take more time and commitment now. It’s ok, though, to make new friends in your new city. You need community where you are. I mean when Elle Woods moved to DC, she went to that hair salon and made new friends while still keeping her old friends. Learn from Elle.
image via forbes.com
3. You aren’t crazy. You’re normal. I often felt crazy at times. Mainly, in the transition to Ethiopia and back to America. You feel crazy when your Mom asks you why your toilet paper is in the trash can and why you insist on washing and reusing the Ziploc bags. Let’s not be wasteful, Mom.
You also feel crazy when you forgot how to drive a car, keep saying things in a different language, and are overwhelmed by the amount of options on the cereal aisle. In my latest transition to Atlanta, I just felt crazy when I was overwhelmed by the tiniest of decisions, like which parking lot to choose for my parking permit at school. These little decisions felt much bigger and more overwhelming than they should have been. You’re not crazy, though. Even if you don’t understand what the heck is going on around you, you’re not crazy. Things are just new but you will adapt. Which leads me to the fourth…
4. You will adapt if you just embrace. What helped me adapt to life in Ethiopia, was that I decided to embrace. New food: eat it. New language: learn it. New clothes: wear them. New transportation: use it. New culture: embrace it. If you try to push it away because it’s uncomfortable, you won’t adapt. If you’re going to adapt, you must embrace. Try new things at least once.
5. You are always a learner. My organization I worked for in Ethiopia taught me this one. You are always a learner. Even in my seemingly simpler move from Tulsa to Atlanta, I had to remind myself that I’m still al learner. Each person I meet is my teacher. They teach me about the lifestyle here. What parts of the city aren’t safe, what parts pf they city are “cool”, which grocery store has the best selection… I need these people to teach me and I need to let myself be a constant learner.
We never know exactly what lies ahead in life but it's always important to fully grasp and acknowledge the now.
6. Transition is something that needs to be acknowledged and accepted. It shouldn't be easy either. I remember my flight home to Tulsa from Ethiopia very clearly, particularly the last leg: Houston to Tulsa. In that last hour of travel, it was hitting me, "I'm in America right now. I will be in America for a while, maybe forever. This isn't like the last time when I just came home from Ethiopia for a few months then went back. I'm not going back. I said good-bye for good this time and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. My life is taking a new turn. I don't know exactly what will lie ahead but everything is about to change." I fully realized my transition that was about to happen. All at the same time, I felt scared, uneasy, nervous, anxious, sad, happy, excited...
The point is, we never know exactly what lies ahead in life but it's always important to fully grasp and acknowledge the now. I was scared of the unknown, scared of how hard it was going to be to settle back into American life, but I knew it was my new present to grasp. My new present and stage of transition to accept. Accepting it and acknowledging it gave me the power and courage to confidently step into a hard season of change and transition.
I haven’t been in Atlanta for very long and it’s still really challenging. I still get scared in not knowing where this new life I’ve chosen will lead me and still get overwhelmed by all of the “new.” I am adjusting and embracing and adapting, though, and I know that I have many more transitions to come. These transitions make me stronger. They teach me more about myself. They teach me how to trust, how to hope, and how to find joy.
So, if you’re in transition, you’ll be ok. I promise.
When was the last time you went through a big transition in life? Tell us below!
Rachel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where she studied Political Science/ International Studies. After living in Ethiopia for 2 years, empowering and mentoring young university women, she is now attending Emory University in Atlanta,GA where she is obtaining her Masters degree in Development Practices. She is a strong advocate for her faith in Jesus Christ, empowering the next generation of women and fighting for their rights, traveling, dance parties, reading, a good cup of tea, and Parks and Recreation.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here