Both before and after I graduated last May, many people told me (or rather, warned me) how difficult the transition from college student to working adult would be. I had also seen my four older sisters struggle through this transition. I knew what was coming in the sense that I knew that I had no idea what was coming. I have been told, and discovered for myself, that you don't really get it until you've been through it (which is true of basically everything in life, I believe). I drove myself into near hysteria in the summer, frightened of what was to come. I think I was more upset and anxious then than I have been since I started working full-time. I am not here to say that it was easy peasy and that I should not have been worried. The past six months have, in fact, been difficult and full of growing pains.
Here's the thing about transitions, though: they're tough, but they have a way of teaching us about ourselves and the world and helping us to grow. They are a fundamental and unavoidable part of life that we must embrace. How would we know the good times were good unless we've experienced what hard times are like?
I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I have learned a lot about transitions and how to handle them through my recent experiences. Of course, each person handles transition differently, but here are some things that have been helpful for me in the past few months.
- Lean in to bad feelings- I found myself at times getting frustrated for feeling upset. Spoiler alert: that doesn't help. I allow myself to occasionally feel sad or angry or anxious, because that's just part of the process. It is important, however, not to allow these feelings to stew for an extended period of time, or I can become a miserable human being to be around.
- Get involved- I have learned that staying busy is very important for me as I go through a transition. When I have too much time on my hands, I tend to overthink things quite a bit. Outside of work, I am engaging in hobbies and activities I'm passionate about, and as a bonus, have met many great new friends along the way!
- Take care of yourself- When we experience negative emotions, it's easy to use them as an excuse for unhealthy behavior. But binge-watching shows on Netflix and eating ice cream for dinner every night will not make you feel good for long. I've found that focusing on exercising, eating well, and taking care of my mental health gives me more long-term benefits and makes me happier on a daily basis.
- Cultivate relationships- Transitions are a vital time to have a strong support system. This includes connecting with your family, continuing to strengthen old friendships, as well as building new ones. In life, I have found that who you are with often matters more than what you are doing.
- Pray- The most important relationship of all is the one I have with my Savior. Whenever I feel anxious, I turn to Him in prayer to give me comfort and strength. I frequently seek reassurance in the words of Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
What is the most difficult transition you've been through? What (or who) helped you through it?