I spent nearly my entire senior year of high school and the ensuing summer telling anyone who would listen how much I couldn't wait to go to college. Through the years, it seemed as though whenever the word college was mentioned the response that followed was most always “best time of my life”. I dreamed of the freedom college life would bring and eagerly awaited this hyped-up season of my life to begin. Yet, I remember the day my parents dropped me off at school like it was yesterday. After I was all moved in and sent my parents on their way, I found myself sitting on my dorm bed in sheer panic. I was afraid, overwhelmed and felt incredibly alone. I thought to myself, “this is supposed to be the best time of your life, what is wrong with you?” I began to doubt my college decision and ultimately to doubt myself. No one told me about any of the hard parts of going away to school. No one spoke of the fear or loneliness or told me that it takes time, maybe even the first year or two, to find my place. I concluded I was the only person who felt this way.
Similarly, when I graduated from college I had the opportunity to move over 2,000 miles away to work for Nike Inc. outside of Portland, Oregon. Once again, I was filled with the anticipation of great adventure stepping into a dream job in a new city. I arrived in Portland alone with two suitcases to my name. Suddenly I was overcome with the familiar feelings of being afraid and alone. I was overwhelmed with sadness over leaving friends that had become family in Kentucky, and at the same time I couldn’t wait to start a new job in a new city with the chance to create new friendships.
Both transitional experiences turned out to have moments of great joy, achievement, and lasting friendships and each experience also had moments of great pain, sadness and challenge. Both experiences were filled with hope, while each transition, and the many I have incurred since, held difficulty in the adjustment.
While some transitions are easier than others, life (and life transitions) are hard.
Whether it is going college or leaving college, moving to a new city, starting or ending a job, getting married or divorced, transitioning home from an experience abroad, getting sober, new births, death and loss, or relationships that change, if we are fully alive humans we will experience a multitude of feelings from joy to sadness and everything in between.
With every yes, we are saying no to other options and most new beginnings often involve an ending in another area of our lives.
Sometimes it appears as though people forget to talk about the challenging parts of life, and choose instead to highlight only the ecstasy of their experiences. Further, if we choose to engage in social media, our plight may worsen as we continue to compare our insides to other’s outsides.
While future anticipation of positive life experiences can be healthy, what do we do when we are struggling in seasons of transition? Perhaps we keep quiet and become anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, begin to isolate from others or engage in harmful behaviors. Maybe we hit the gym or modify our eating habits to change our external selves.
Often it seems our heart is crying out and yet the three words that are furthest from our tongues are: I need help.
The moment the words are spoken to a trustworthy person, relief frequently follows.
Brene Brown said, “in one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.” It seems we have gotten it wrong in our world, believing courage is the ability to grit our teeth and do everything ourselves. What if we chose to believe true courage is telling the truth about what it is like to be us and having the strength to ask for help? We might find out some people are more than willing to step in and help us. We might discover we are not as alone as we thought.
While transitions are challenging, it is in these seasons of stretching we evolve. Adverse events force us to reexamine our beliefs. We are often left with no choice but to reconsider things we took for granted and to think about new things. We are confronted with feelings we may have spent much of our time working to avoid. We are forced to ask for help and lean on others. Ultimately, the gift of these seasons of challenge is the opportunity to transform into becoming more of who we were designed to be.
Are you in a challenging season of your life? Where might you need to ask for help? How could you courageously take a step forward in getting the help you need today?
If you are longing for someone to assist you in sorting through the difficulties in your life, I’d love to help!