I recently moved across country, from central New York to Portland. This move had been long in the making and filled with the excitement of a career shift, a bigger city and a fresh start. And though I would like to fancy myself as an easy-breezy gal who could throw a few things in an old Chevrolet and travel out west, I am a smidge more fussy than this.
This move is exciting. It is an opportunity for change. It’s filled with potential. But let's get real…IT SUCKS TO MOVE! I am a self-proclaimed optimist and a firm believer in a positive attitude, but I also believe in the validity of human emotion, and uprooting my life has not been easy. In my quest to make the most out of this new adventure, I have begun to repeat some not-so-helpful familiar habits.
I feel like a spindle top lost in my frenzy of mental worry. I can’t focus long on much of anything. I awake in the morning and my mind begins to find a way to create familiarity. “Which apartment is best? We need to find a couch! I don’t know where I am going. Why is there so much traffic? This was a terrible idea. Are we going to fail miserably at this new life?!” Everyone handles change and stress differently, and we all have a different tolerance for life’s jarring events. For me, when my mind spins with fears, I find myself grasping at my external world for stability. A couch, an organized closet, the right apartment…it all seems like the answer to the spinning. And though these logistics are necessary steps in creating new roots, they are not the consistent answer to calming my mind.
So, in an attempt at relaxation, I got off the mattress on the floor of my new, nearly empty apartment and climbed into the bathtub. Lacking candles, I decided to create a relaxing oasis by cracking the door and turning off the lights. I stumbled back to the tub and climbed in. The blackness irritated me. Why didn’t I get a candle at the Dollar Store? And then, in my intolerable, impatient state, I got irritated with myself, too. “Just chill, your eyes will adjust.” And sure enough, as I sat in the darkness, a few minutes passed and I started to see. It was like the end of a children’s book, a cheesy lesson spelled out in crayons: YOU WILL ADJUST. JUST CHILL.
It is in moments of change (or impending change) that many of our unhealthy habits are magnified. We are afraid of the discomfort that change so often brings. Naturally, we seek to avoid pain and failure. But the truth is, when we sit still and allow the fears, discomfort, uncertainty to just be…we start to slowly adjust.
The circumstances of disorienting change can vary: a lost job, the end of a relationship, a move, or even a death. But the truth of our human ability to adjust to an array of difficult situations is evident by courageous people who have made it through their own disorienting changes. What is powerful is the realistic optimism that allows us to remember, "This is hard… but I will adjust. I am scared…but I will adjust. I may fail… but I will adjust." And in the moment of accepting both what you feel right now, and the hope that lives in knowing you have the ability to adjust…darkness slowly becomes light.