“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
-Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
A life transition can be moving to a new neigborhood. A life transition can be the end of a relationship, or the beginning of a relationship. A life transition can be the beginning or end of a career, the change from student to working person, or changes in phase of life. A life transition can be the change from one identity to another, whether it be social, gender, or sexual. Life transitions are the space between chapters in a book. One chapter has ended, a new one begins, and all we really know is what has happened before.
Life transitions stir things up.
We might not fully grasp it. With all the busyness and stress of, say, putting a house on the market, packing, finding a new place, moving, and unpacking, we might not have the space or time to see how the experience affects us until it’s all over and suddenly there is this strange heavy cloud that’s difficult to shake.
Life transitions bring us back to core questions. Who am I? What do I want in life? Where will I fit? What are my needs, and how do I get them met?
Old ways of being may no longer fit, no matter how much we try to make them work. Our relationships change as we change; our friends and loved ones might not understand the change. Issues and problems we thought long-buried might rise to the surface. No matter how much we long to change, something within us may resist, something scared or angry, something that is unable to see what is possible.
When I was young, my family moved neighborhoods and school districts in the middle of the school year. I went from being an outgoing, joyful kid to being shy and depressive, meeting other kids who did not immediately accept me in a household with conflict I did not understand. Much, much later in life, moving from the Midwest to Seattle, I felt excited but also overcome with anxiety, overwhelm, and inexplicable, ugly emotional displays. I became depressed after the move. With time and reflection, I realized that I became depressed every time I moved houses or went through a major change, even when the change was exciting and welcome. I realized that some part of me was still reacting to that difficult transition that happened twenty years ago.
There is much that is possible. Every transition, every crisis involves a loosening of our habits and limiting beliefs about ourselves. If we create without consciousness or intention, we may end up re-creating the things that did not work.
Life transitions are opportunities to grow up while growing down. We can look within to find what it is we truly value in life, not what values have been imposed upon us. We can look within to find what has been left out and what no longer feeds us. We can look within to find those echoes of the past that continue to limit us from becoming who we truly are. We can risk sharing ourselves with our loved ones with greater honesty and vulnerability, meaning greater intimacy. We can create a life of meaning, depth, and gratitude.