Transitioning to a New Stage in Life

How often have you heard people tell you, you’re going to miss this, when referring to how you’re currently experience a stage in life? How do you typically react? Does it help you reset your perspective and focus on the positives walking away from that conversation more thankful for the current moment than before? Or do you feel unheard and frustrated because when you expressed something hard the person you were talking to told you not to feel that way? Truly, I’ve never met a single person who reacts as the first and I personally fall firmly in the camp of the latter. I can honestly say that I have never reacted well to that statement. At best I squint (making a face that my friends call Hate Eye) and say nothing. At my worst and most frustrated I say something like, ‘I didn’t say I hate where I’m at I said this part is hard, Karen.’ or ‘Really, I’ve been living as me for a few years now, a lot more than you have, and I think I know how I’ll feel about this looking back.’ Both eloquent and loving responses, obviously, and while I standby my position I likely could express it a bit better. This post is intended to be warm hug to the person feeling angst in a transition or specific season of life, I see you and it is hard. It is also meant to be a softer more descriptive version of my sharp responses for those who insist on telling people, you’re going to miss this.

When I think of transitioning to a new stage in life, whether it was from being a ‘kid’ to getting a summer job, moving to out on my own, getting married, moving between ‘big girl jobs’, having a baby, adding the babies, and then all of their stages, I think of what it actually means to make that transition. There is a death of something, and often times that something is part of your identity. I know that that sounds dramatic but think about it. When you go off to college or get that first apartment there is a death of the days where someone else took care of your basic needs. When you get married there is a death to single life you once knew. When your babies aren’t such babies anymore there is a death to being needed as much as before. It is painful and scary just like any loss but it is also a new beginning. There is a new beginning that is exciting, hopeful, and scary in it’s own right. You’re learning what it means to have more responsibility or give a piece of yourself to something you never had before and it’s great but also so very hard.

By baby #3 I finally felt like I understood that stage. It was still crazy hard. I just understood that.

Keep in mind you are the same person who came through all of the transitions in life that proceeded this one. You have moved through countless stages and phases, blessings and trials, and each one has equipped you. You have all the same abilities that carried you through what you’ve been through and now even more skills because of going through them. That failed science project in the 3rd grade was preparing you to take on bigger challenges as you moved forward. Those challenges in turn prepared you for what you’re going through now. These are only preparation for what you’ll need in the future.

As you’re coming out of the actual transition, you’ve crossed that bridge of change and your feet are planted firmly on the other side, it is almost as if you don’t know the life you once lived. Sure bits and pieces will come back to mind when reminiscing. (hint, I think these are the you’re going to miss this moments they speak of) but its only a highlight reel really. You’ll think back to the times you could make plans at 10 at night. You’ll wonder idly how life might have been different if you’d chosen a different path. You’ll think back to the sleep deprived days filled with diapers and milk schedules and wonder how you even survived. You were likely a different person then and living in a stage of life that seemed to last forever while you were in it and now seems so far away.

Whether in transition or firmly in a specific stage, it truly is fleeting. Some of them we thrive in and other’s we barely survive. Don’t add the extra pressure trying to be positive and optimistic in the most difficult parts. When things are hard let them be hard. When things are great, let them be great. Soak it all in, the good the bad and the ugly. Don’t dismiss your feelings on either side even in those smaller transitions or the ones you chose. If you took a a new job and you are thrilled for what it will do for your career but heart broken for what you’re leaving behind, go ahead and feel it. If you did rounds of IVF and still get frustrated when the baby wakes up at night, mourn your loss of sleep and celebrate the life you created.

This is what holding both can look like. Celebrating transition in our 30s and mourning the loss of a baby who didn’t quite make it to this world. So much transition and so much love.

There is a Brad Paisley song that gave me permission a long time ago to enjoy, mourn for a minute, and then focus on the possibility of what comes next. In it Paisley is talking to a younger version of himself offering some reflection and perspective on life in the teen years. Toward the end of the song he has so much excitement as he tells about what is to come and sings, ‘have no fear these are no where near the best days of your life.’ I, being the lyric junky that I am, took this very literally and I still hold firmly to it. Childhood and high school were fantastic experiences for me, add on to that now the first decade of marriage and raising our own family have been amazing. I can look back at all I’ve accomplished, all I’ve loved and lost and learned, and think of it fondly knowing that it brought me, brought us, to where we are but I have never once longed to go back. I know, as good as they are, the best years are yet to come.

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