A transition is a period of time within which we experience a change. The difference between them being a change is a single occurrence; a trauma, a celebration, a 'win'. This is the physical or emotional alteration of a situation.
The transition is more encompassing than the change. It represents a journey; a movement. The transition, you could say, is the vehicle upon which the change is taken and carried to a new destination. To me, a transition has an end goal, or rather a new location for life to unfold into. The very verb-transitioning-suggests a process.
In short, the transition happens because of the change.
Changes in life are completely unavoidable, so don't waste your time hiding from them. They are, more often than not, also out of our control. The positive way to view life changes would be to believe that all change propels us forward in life. Even if, on the surface, it seems negative or suggests some level of regression.
Life doesn't tend to wait around for us to feel ready, as I imagine you know. 'Life's too short' is an over-used but veritable sentiment. It is logical then, to make the most of our lives; to 'go with the flow' of life in a way that welcomes transitional periods.
Change makes people anxious. I know it makes me anxious. Although I would say I can handle big changes, it's the smaller ones that get me. When plans change-the time, location, date-and I've not had time to mentally prepare, that's when I get edgy. When I’ve got dressed for a certain occasion, but then plans change and I have to find another outfit. Or we get to the restaurant and they’ve pushed dinner back 30 minutes... don’t they know how hangry I am right now?
I find the transitional periods that follow a bigger deal; far more exciting. Leaving home and going to university was a season of transition for me. The initial change was moving from Bedford to Coventry, living without parents. But the journey that followed was so much more than that single change. I found myself learning so much. About council tax banding, which day the bin needed putting out, how to cook fluffy rice. Y'know- the important stuff! I had started the transition into an acute form of adulthood.
If you can, recall to mind a change that began a period of transition in your life. Did it teach you something? In hindsight, can you say that it has, or will have, prepared you for a future occasion? Can you recognise the gift hidden within it? In my experience, even negative changes-and the resulting transitional periods-can offer beneficial anecdotes.
The breakdown of my marriage was dramatic. A completely unexpected change, from which I believed I wouldn't recover. As time, the age-old healer, did her thing, it became evident that what began as a major trauma was developing. Ironically, into something quite the opposite of the bad news it began as.
For me, when I realised I was 'over' it, I knew I was transitioning into a fresh start. A fresh start, to some, suggests what came before should be disregarded or forgotten; a mistake to erase from memory. Some believe 'bad' experiences serve no positive purpose. I disagree. To me, no past experience should be completely forgotten; even the painful ones. I don't mean you should dwell upon it or let it hinder you moving forwards, but recognise and take with you the lessons it offered.
It isn't uncommon to find that situations we initially considered negative, make mutations. These marked alterations cause us to reconsider if a change is quite how it once seemed. These lead to lessons from which we can learn. I've come to understand that everything we experience in life teaches us something. Whether that be coping strategies, knowledge for the future, things to avoid next time. Experience feeds into preparation.
Fuelled by these lessons, my fresh start took the form of an unfamiliar town, a mildly challenging new job and living with my best friend. I continued to make revelations; ones that I had to forgive myself for not having made a long time prior. That I was worth some patience. That self-love is undeniably fundamental for a happy and fulfilled life. That I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined.
That fresh start then took me to a summer camp, where I realised although England was filled with my friends and family and a whole load of great memories, it was also filled with some bad ones. There always seemed to be an elephant in the room there, so I decided to leave. Moving out of England has been the change, but moving and setting in New Zealand is the real transition; the real adventure.
Not everybody feels as though they 'succeeded' at a transition. But I mean, what even is 'success'? Berating yourself for not having 'done it right' is pointless and damaging. If a change brought about a transition that led your life to something less positive or somewhere you didn't want to be-who cares? You lived it, you made it; you're still here! I bet if you can change it, you will.
We all accept change into our lives in different ways. Sometimes, we aren't ready for the transition or the evolving that comes with it. There might be occasions where you are able to politely decline change; that's fine, too.
As individuals, we respond to transitions in differing ways and we all have our own pace. Refuse the negative self-talk by being compassionate to yourself.
You're simply in the pre-game stages; gearing up for the next level when you do feel ready.
Next time a change happens in your life, recognise it as a catalyst for your next transition, your next journey. It does not define you, nor can you change that it happened. But you can consider the direction it is taking you. You have the power to make decisions and choices, based on what your past has taught you, that forges a new path to a flourishing future.