You’re either going through a transition or getting ready to go into one.
Change is hard. It can leave us confused, anxious, and lonely. Whether we’re ready or not, we all go through transitions in our lives – graduating high school to starting college, earning that degree to landing your first job in the “real world,” leaving your comfort zone and moving to a new city, or being single to being married.
These are just some of the many transitions that will inevitably happen in your life. Although we cannot control what life throws at us, we can manage change more gracefully and successfully.
MY STORY OF CHANGE
It has only been in the recent five years that I’ve experienced major transitions in my life. I can count seven transitions:
- Community college to university (new environment, new city)
- University to half-year internship in New York (new city, first “real” professional gig)
- Internship back to university (work mode to study mode)
- Being in a relationship to being single
- University to study abroad in Hong Kong (new city, people, culture)
- University to first job (student to professional)
- First job to my current job (new city, people)
Especially in our 20s, it is a time of discovery, experimentation, and adventure. It can be fun but it may lead us to feel confused, anxious, and lonely.
“How did I get here? Why did God place me here? I don’t know anybody here. How do I make friends here? I thought things would turn out better than this.”
Ironically, you may feel God leaves you with more questions than answers. You are not alone. Here are 3 steps that I’ve used to manage the transitions of life:
CALIBRATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
When I graduated from my undergraduate studies at UCLA and transitioned into my first full-time job, I had high expectations of myself (much of it was my ego). In my mind, I had just earned a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world and graduated with honors. I’ve won countless awards and scholarships, held a number of leadership positions, and gained internship experience at a Fortune 100 company. How hard could a full-time job in the “real world” be?
In the first year of my first job, I struggled to perform and I had lingering fears of being fired. I looked at my colleagues and they all seemed to be so competent in their roles. I felt like I was lagging behind. My internal monologue was: “I shouldn’t be here. Why did they hire me?”
It was a tough year, but I had to learn the hard way on managing the transition from the student world to the professional world. One of the keys is to recalibrate your expectations. Give yourself some grace and think longer-term. Don’t expect to be a rockstar in your job within one year. Success takes patience and time.
Michael Jordan didn’t start out as an overnight success in the NBA. He was cut from his high school varsity basketball team. But he put in YEARS of hard work and late nights to achieve what he did.
This doesn’t mean set low expectations for yourself. It means to give yourself room for self-mercy and freedom. When you do, you will be liberated from anxiety and pressure on yourself.
Transitions can be lonely when you think you’re experiencing it by yourself. This is why cultivating community and deep relationships are crucial to successfully managing transitions.
During all of my transitions in the past five years, my church communities have been sources of encouragement and love.
We desire intimacy but fear vulnerability. We crave acceptance but we fear rejection.
Life is not meant to be lived alone. The biggest mistakes I see people make is isolating themselves for extended periods of time in their sorrows and frustrations. Our natural reaction is to shut ourselves away from people, but in the end, it hurts you more and becomes a self-destructive habit.
Reach out to others, be open and honest, and take a risk in vulnerability. You will be pleasantly surprised that many people are experiencing the same emotions. And who knows? Maybe you’ll make a good friend along the way.
CAPTURE THE MOMENT (AND LET GO)
During our transition, it’s easy for us to hold onto our comfort zones – old friends, familiar city, mom’s cooking. By the same token, we tend to want to be in a better place than where we are now.
In college, I dreaded studying and writing papers. I was always looking forward to finishing school and starting work. When I started work, it became challenging and I missed school and the easiness of meeting new people. My mind was either in the past or future, but rarely in the present.
Sometimes the very reason why you feel discontent may be the reason why God put you there in the first place. Just because you are not enjoying your current station in life does not necessarily mean you should transition out of it. God may be teaching you gratitude and molding you in the desert season of life to be the man or woman He desire you to be.
If you’re always holding onto the comforts of life or desiring to be somewhere else in the future, you’ll miss on what God is presently doing. Capture the moment and let go of the past. Ask yourself: “What is God teaching me right now?”
Remain faithful where you currently are and be expectant of God’s mighty hand in your life. Relinquish control and He’ll craft a story far better than you can imagine.