Do you confuse change with trauma like me?
“In the space between chaos and shape, there was another chance.” Jeanette Winterson
Seasons of change
With January just around the corner, most of us start to think about changes we want to make in the new year. Friday, December 22nd will be the shortest day of the year, and after that, the days will slowly become longer again. To me, those days signify a time of hope. The short, cold days of winter are depressing, and I look forward to the longer and warmer days of summer.
What does transition mean?
I am starting to think about my next transition. It’s nothing new for me. I’ve moved between hemispheres at least ten times in the last ten years. Looking back, I have faced and even chosen, change many times. I got the chance to document communities in different countries and spend time with friends in America and Asia. Despite making large changes quite often, my brain often confuses change with trauma. I worry that I could have done more in the place I’ve been, and by leaving, I am being defeated. I second guess my decision to move. And I fret about what is to come. Will this move add value to my life?
Does possibility lie in the uncertainty?
With change comes a period of transition. It makes me stressed, loopy, a bit tense. The unreliable income, the moving, the uncertainty, the saying goodbye to loved ones. The packing and shedding of belongings, all these things feel traumatic.
Yet, transition holds the potential for positive change. Without transition, there is no getting to the new-and-possibly-better thing. Although it usually conjures up a little twinge in my belly which feels strangely like fear, I am working on rewiring my brain to make the frenzied twinges feel more like butterflies of hope, flying about and signifying possibility. I want my life trajectory to keep rising.
Creating space for new opportunities
Transition allows me to reinvent my life to better fit my current needs or interests.
Transition is what creates space for new opportunities.
I don’t want to be paralyzed by the negative feelings, I want to use this valuable period of time to keep moving forward.
Years ago, I was saying goodbye to a boss at my job in Oregon because I planned to move to Phoenix. I was bemoaning the fact that I’d be packing once again. I told her I hated packing everything up. She said, “But you wouldn’t have to pack if you didn’t decide to move.” She was confused about why I would want to do something that made me feel so terrible. I think of her each time I am packing. Thinking about how this is my choice prevents self-pity, and reminds me that I have a lot of freedom. I get to try something new, to go where it’s warmer. Packing just signifies the beginning of another adventure. I can pack the bare necessities and start again somewhere familiar but in a different hemisphere, or choose somewhere completely new.
Fear can tell you what’s important
Transition always scares me but I like the fear in a way because it lets me know how important something is to me. I can’t necessarily change my physical response to fear, but I am working on reimagining my emotional reactions to it. I want to really feel the possibility in it. Sometimes trying a thing that scares me is the only way I can find happiness on my path.
Have you ever packed your bags and headed somewhere new? It could be in the literal sense, or perhaps you packed your figurative bags and moved on to something radically different. How did you feel? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your stories.