Transitions. Letting Go and Moving Forward.
May 12th, 2015 | Comment
Transition is something we face on campus no matter our role within the community. We experience several transitions within one academic year – move-in, winter break, move-out, graduation, and summer break. I found the post below by Allison McWilliams insightful in providing a thoughtful perspective in coping with the transition you may be experiencing as the semester draws to a close as summer break begins. I encourage you to read further and share with others in transition.
Originally published on May 4, 2015 by Allison McWilliams, Ph.D. for the Mentoring Resource Center Blog
Transitions, no matter how well-equipped you are or how ready you feel, are almost always hard. There is a real process of letting go that requires acknowledgement and a certain amount of grieving. Things will be left behind – both physically and emotionally. It could be that some of your stuff, which seemed so important to you, will not fit in your new space. It could be that the way that you’ve always managed things in the past won’t work as well in the future. People who have been your support system may not be with you on your new journey. To brush past this, to pretend like it may not be happening, is to cheapen it. And, let’s be honest: deal with it now, or deal with it later, you’re going to have to deal with it.
William Bridges talks about three stages of transition. First there is this letting go process, which he calls the “ending.” At the other end of that is a “new beginning.” But the hardest part, and possibly the most important part, is what happens in between, the “neutral zone,” as he calls it. This is when people are in “free fall,” tied neither to what they just left nor to what is to come. For some, this stage is incredibly freeing: there are no rules! There is no stuff! I can do whatever I want! But for many, this stage is fraught with confusion and tension. What do I hold onto? What is going to happen when I land?
The end of a school year is a transition for everyone involved. For some of us, who work here, it’s a period of relief that we in some ways work towards all year. For a couple of months, we can relax our minds, relax our schedules, relax our dress codes even. For many of our students it’s a transition to summer plans that may include travel to new places, taking on a new job or internship, even just moving back home to a familiar place but in a new role. But for our seniors, this is a stage of enormous free fall. They are daring to step out (OK, maybe be pushed out a bit) into the unknown, beyond the walls of this safe and familiar place. They are moving to a new city, taking on new roles as alumni and young professionals and graduate students. They are leaving close friends, familiar restaurants, beloved faculty and staff members. And sure, it’s exciting. But it’s scary, too. They haven’t quite reached their new beginning, yet.
So, if you know one of these young people, give them an extra hug, an extra nod of encouragement, tell them how proud you are of them. Remind them that everything that they have done up until this moment has prepared them for this moment, and they are ready. Transitions are hard. Change is uncomfortable. But it’s by facing the hard things, it’s by allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable, that we truly grow into the person we are meant to be.
Category: Professional Development