Change, whether big or small, is not easy. We are surrounded by it, and it is as certain as the rising of sun every morning; yet, it is not easy. Sometimes, it can be as small as discontinuation of one of your favourite skincare products, or as big as a divorce, heartbreak or change of career (which I went through earlier this year).
Change isn’t an alien concept to me. I come from a military family, where every change in title or station for my father meant a new city/country for us. For a young boy, this change was more; it was a transition. How does one differ from another? In the words of William Bridges, “Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: a new site, a new boss, a new team role, and a new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal”.
As we moved from one place to another, I had to adapt to to new cultures, different kinds of people, and a variety of surrounding. Just as I was about to feel at home, it was time to move again. On the upside, it made me a third culture kid, one that was more adaptable and a better team player than most kids my age. At the same time, it was really messed up and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. I never got to make friends in childhood who could last me a lifetime. I just did not have that luxury of time. I can’t think of anyone from my childhood who was in the same class as me for two consecutive years.
How do you survive this constant change, and attain some semblance to normalcy? Here are my four tips, accumulated from living in 28 cities and 10 countries.
“We” are all we have.
This is our family WhatsApp group’s mantra. No matter how life changes or where it takes us, family is one thing that stays constant. So, to survive the transitional waves, stay as close to your family as possible. They will be your strength.
Break your rear view mirror. Pronto.
In summer of 2008, I had a car accident that costed me the rear view mirror, among other things. A friend of mine, H, came over to meet me; he looked at the car, and said, “at least now you don’t need to look back”. For some reason, it stuck. This sentence of his. I never did look back, especially at him, as he was a royal jerk.
I made it a habit to not dwell on the past. Whatever happened, it was in the past. It is inconsequential in comparison to where you are and where you are headed. Don’t waste valuable time and energy on what was or could have been. Keep your eyes ahead to deal with what’s coming and invest your mental energy on creating your new reality.
Grab your guide
You are not the first person to be embarking on this particular journey; many have gone down this road before you and it would serve you well to engage with them to help you through the process. Remember how on the first day at a new school, the teacher would ask newcomers to come in front and introduce themselves? Every time I stood in front, I knew that people who stood on my right and left were going to be my new friends. We were in it together, this transition, and teaming up with them allowed for us to share information and experiences. This situational camaraderie also softened blows and hardships that almost always come along new experiences.
Celebrate, because this too shall pass
Change is hard, transition is ever harder, but both eventually come to an end. Celebrate every little milestone in your journey. I usually treat myself with a slice of carrot cake from my favourite cafe, caramel latte from Dunkin Donuts or visit a temple. Something that means something to me to commemorate the achievement, and solidify into a lasting, happy memory.