Somewhere in the middle: Transitions

At certain points in life I get to feeling like I’m supposed to have everything figured out. When I feel this way my anxiety increases and bouts of panic and worry pour over me.

In reality I’m building on the successes of my past, but in the moment it feels like I’m being forced to start all over.

This feeling is how I felt going into college and how I’m feeling now, a little less than a year since college graduation. For someone accustomed to being constantly busy and generally confident at where the next steps in life are taking me the “open world” that came post-college  was (and still is) somewhat daunting.

It’s amazing how easily I forgot what it felt like to be moving on to the next big step of life. Each time I am surprised to be filled simultaneously with extreme excitement and fear. Each time I forget that not everything happens overnight.

Moving to Chicago really does feel like starting over: everything feels so new. When I started to “re-build” I went to where I knew I’d feel at home-in the band (well, orchestra). I knew there would be friendly faces and a common language. Joining an orchestra gave me a sense of belonging and it also gives me something to look forward to each week.

Most importantly, it has taught me to take time for myself and “have a life” outside of work. In college, life was work and work was life. The two blended together so fluidly that it wasn’t always clear when I was and wasn’t working. Honestly, I loved it and it’s easy to forget that it took a while to get to that point where work and life flowed so well together.

At times it was overwhelming but I always knew that the craziness would come to an end. Now, there are less clear boundaries of when something will come to an end. Part of the reason I enjoyed working on the election this fall was because it was hard work with a clear deadline and no time to slow down until it was over…and when it was over the slow down felt equally satisfying and completely wrong.

I’m still not quite sure what to do with myself when I’m not busy, but I’m slowly learning to relax and constantly reminding myself that it is okay to do so. 

So, to all my fellow non-stop friends, this is a reminder that it’s alright for you to take a moment (or two) for yourself. This is especially for those friends heading into the “real world” beyond college:

  • Soak up the time you are in with the people you are with
  • When you do get time to relax, take time for yourself to unplug and reflect. Get out into the fresh air and listen to the world around you.
  • Remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out; you’re not going to have it all figured out. If you accept that it is going to be uncomfortable and incomplete for a while, you’ll be just fine.
  • While we move through feeling unsettled I’ll be here if you need someone to listen, someone to talk, or you’re somewhere in the middle
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