Trudging through Transitions to Satisfy My Truth
It’s challenging being in transition.
For someone who is so fluid, so easy-going, so adaptable to new situations, and so resistant to long-term commitments, it surprises me how ill-at-ease I feel during the unsteady moments of being in-between.
Currently navigating my life-track post-grad, I can either dive deep into a career path, or I can continue to weave the tapestry of my journey and keep building on other interesting aspects of my life.
My options are seemingly limitless; I have no physical or permanent obligations to anything (other than my immediate family and close friends) or preventions; I am single, with no kids, no contracts, and no commitments.
The past few months after finishing school were anything but clear, focused, narrow, or defined. They were emotional, tumultuous, confusing, and without a timeline in sight.
Visiting family last Fall revealed that some loved-ones were going through their own major life change and needed support. I felt compelled to help them, given our closeness and my freely available schedule; within a weekend of being with them, I decided I would move to them. The timing seemed dire and I was eager to get their gears going toward positive productivity. I set myself a deadline of five weeks to get all of my affairs in order for a cross-country move. I followed-through on that plan, amidst weeks of hesitation. Uprooting myself from the place in which I’d spent the previous two years in school, living independently, working odd jobs, and building community was more difficult than I expected it would be; I was full of regret and second-guessing.
Because part of the reason I felt compelled to move from that city in the first place was due to my inability to have found my people out there; I was searching for my tribe. As fate would have it I met several of my best friends during those last five weeks. I was testing the city, perhaps, to see if it’d bring them out of the woodworks in time for my departure. Finding quality people I was searching for, so close to the end of my time there, was heart-wrenching. In one sense I was grateful, but in another disappointed in my lack of remaining time with them and rash decision-making, particularly as large a decision as a cross-country relocation.
I felt torn, ripped away, and transplanted prematurely without time to fully bloom in that place.
It felt like I was making a mistake.
It was not a good feeling to move with.
While a noble and worthy cause that would have been kind and generous of me to do, I realized upon reflection that my family’s problem was not my struggle to salvage and was ultimately not in my best interest given my newly renewed state of open-ended freedom.
My dad’s advice was to “strike while the iron’s hot” in searching for a career; don’t dilly-dally wasting time after grad-school. Get out there and get moving. Grow. Apply yourself. Meet new people. Explore the available doors. Don’t wait years to do what you’re searching for. Do it now.
Luckily, in my huge move I planned to land first at my parent’s house before settling into my grand savior voyage; this granted me time to change my mind and find what was right for me. I stayed there instead of continuing my move; spending the next couple of months searching for jobs in the area, in the city I just departed from, and other cities I might like. My parents happily provided shelter, food, and endless love and support; invaluable to me, after spending the last 10 years working and living independently to make my life work on my own. They provided a landing pad; a place to reset, refresh, and prioritize. Without the burden of full-time employment, I was able to spend that time searching for what really mattered to me - what I wanted to do with my life apart from the needs or desires of someone else.
I could go anywhere, do anything. What did I want to dedicate the next portion of my life to? How did I want to grow and where did I want to apply my skill sets? Were there new skills I’d like to delve into, now that I’d practiced the previous ones?
In return for freedom and flexibility, I’d become paralyzed by opportunity. While an arguably privileged problem to have, it is still one that is not easy to tend to. In learning to trust the flow, to honor the roll of the tide as it comes without barriers or manipulations, I’ve learned to let go of making stone-solid plans; I’ve learned to trust that the right opportunities will be available when the time is right to receive them. At the same time, some effort toward some direction is necessary to get the ball rolling at all. Being stagnant doesn’t make things happen - taking action, any action, does.
Reminded of Mary Oliver, I thought, “What [did I] want to do with [my] one wild and precious life?” The options felt endless and simultaneously unattainable, having gained new knowledge but without the experience to apply it in the direction I sought.
A problem with being multifaceted, multi-talented, having my fingers in a lot of different pies, is the constant dissatisfaction of never having fully achieved any of them. “Jack of all Trades, Master of None” has been my whispering mantra for years. These pivotal moments are the precious ones that often carry the most importance. They are fleeting, just like the others, but they are crucial in decision-making and self-directing my best life.
I know that any option I choose will be a good one, so long as I’m doing it for myself and being open-minded to what each encounter has to offer. I know I will thrive in whatever I choose to do, because I require it, but it’s difficult to thrive during the transitional in-between moments when the answers are unclear and I don’t have anything set to sink my teeth into. Once I know what I’m doing and where I’m going, I dive in head first, full-on; so the floating, weightless middle point of not having anything to dive into swirls me through uncertainty and I’m bottled with eager energy without a determined place to direct it.
So I spent two months mulling over my options. I got politely declined from many job applications, discarded without reply at countless others, and asked to interview for others I just wasn’t jazzed about. I did interview and get accepted for one job, working as an intern on a farm, a new journey I’ve never embarked on that intrigued & excited me greatly. It wouldn’t pay much, but it’d be in a beautiful location doing meaningful, productive work, which I strongly desired.
Still, I wanted to see what else was out there.
Do I live in a city, where I’m required to have a full-time job to pay rent, buy food, pay for transit, (generally participate in the economy of the machine), while also having multiple outlets and platforms for creative and social endeavors; or do I take a season to work on a farm, where I won’t make or need much money, I can be physically active, outside, eat fresh food off the land, and not need to participate in consumerism all the time. This would also open doors for personal development that living in a city cannot provide - from the solitude, amount of quiet time, vast open skies, ability to get lost in a forest… all of which I innately crave. Moments for personal reflection are important to me; sometimes I’m happier alone on my own path than surrounded by people, dizzied by theirs.
One of the individuals I met during those last five weeks before moving unexpectedly struck a romantic chord with me. Wondering what could be, we kept in contact. We talked every day of those two months, getting to know each other organically without any pressure of anything else, considering the physical distance between us. Still, we wrote letters, sent each other care packages, and wondered when the next time we could see each other might be. Looking at flights, I realized prices were affordable in early Spring for me to go back. Using airline points and my previously-received security deposit, I booked my tickets to be there for a month. It was a long stay, but seemed it would be worthwhile to return whence I left to explore this budding relationship and see what kind of life I could have there, given these new connections and my aching pull to go back.
So, I went back for a month. The first two weeks were muddled in uncertainty; unsure where my journey was taking me, if it was there or elsewhere. I was desperate to know my destiny. Do I stay here and make this work? Do I leave after the month and take this job back near my parent’s place? I applied for jobs there and was open-minded to what was available. Meanwhile, I was reminded of the wonderful people I know there, what kind of life I could thrive in, confirming that I have a home there. I felt tethered now to the city, these people, but was also feeling called to the farm, and was being reminded of reasons I’d left in the first place, seeking solitude in the mountains away from city life.
By the end of the first two weeks, a stranger to me entered my life and provided the sign I was looking for. They were not only from the place I was looking to move to, but they knew the exact farm I was looking to work at. (It’s a small town that many people in the state don’t know about.) They had only positive things to say about it and even told me about friends there who are doing creative things and gave me their contact info. That was huge! It felt like the answer I was seeking. It felt right. Later the next week, after already making peace about my decision to leave, I met another person from that place, also giving me a friend’s phone number and raving about the location. Boom. Decision made.
Now that I wasn’t writhing in the uncertainty and the stress of maybe needing to move again, I was able to finish my time there feeling the sweet relief of resolve. The answer was presented to me, after mandatory agony, naturally, and it felt good to me. I felt closure with that city, with the lovely, wonderful people I know who live there, and the lasting impression that will carry over no matter where any of us are.
It feels irresponsible to me to move for love, especially the love felt after only knowing someone for three months and being in their actual presence for a mere one month. That would have been another rash decision that could have ruined what could be had I not given it the time needed to continue simmering.
The farm job I am starting is seasonal for now; in 7 months I’ll have to reassess my plan again. But that is how I like it. I enjoy moving, changing the scenery, switching up the folks I circle with, and learning new things. “Go to grow”, Dad says, as well as, “grow where you are planted”, meaning to thrive and find opportunity for growth wherever you are.
Home is not a location, it’s a state of mind. It totally is where your heart is, cliche as it is. I am home wherever I am, because I am in tune with myself. While I don’t know the road before me, I trust I am going in the right direction because I am listening to my intuition and following my feet. Innately I knew this was the right thing to do, but I had to fully know my options before committing.
I realize the differences between moving frequently and staying stationary; constantly transplanting doesn’t allow me to grow to my full capacity in any of those places and it often takes time to see the pay out. It’s just that I’m eager to see so many things in life that the idea of staying in one place too long feels stifling. However, I will find my balance, like I always do. Listening to my truth is where I begin; the rest seems to fall into place organically after that, should I step aside and allow them to. I have determined, as I have in the past, but this was a good reminder, to never make a decision based on what another person wants from me, or perhaps more importantly, what I think they need from me.
I’m living for me, wholeheartedly and unapologetically, though occasionally confused on the direction of the road map. Having supportive family to nurture, support, guide, and advise me, all while accentuating my autonomy to make my own decisions, has been so empowering amidst an otherwise rocky and uncomfortable transition.
That made me think of Rocky Road ice cream. Official ice cream of the tumultuous in-between times? I’m into it.