How To Make It Through Transitions


I watched The Walking Dead last night for medicinal purposes.

It had been one of those days when I just couldn’t get my head together and needed distraction from some painful, obsessive thoughts.

I streamed the very first episode on Netflix. I feel like the first few episodes were the creepiest. Three seasons in, the show can still be an adrenaline rush and I’m totally invested in the characters, but I don’t think it’s truly creeped me out in a while.

I’ve gotten used to dead people shuffling around trying to eat the living. This doesn’t make me jump anymore. Time and exposure have made it easier to tolerate.

Lately, this is a theme that keeps repeating for me.

I once knew someone who moved from the United States to a foreign country and it was the worst thing ever. She didn’t understand the local customs or the complex bureaucracy. She didn’t even really have a good grip on the language.

The first several months were almost constant stress and suffering. She hated that place and she spent most nights on the phone or on Skype with friends back home, making plans for what she would do with them when her one year contract was over.

Then, ever so slowly, things began to shift. She got much better at the language through practice and immersion. She started mentioning things that she liked about her life.

It wasn’t long before she actually began to enjoy being in that country that she had hated so much. In fact, she enjoyed it enough to extend her contract.

Part of her change of heart came when she stopped resisting her situation and realized that the work she could do there, she could never do in the United States. It simply doesn’t hold the same monetary value.

But also, the scary newness had worn off, the anxiety of getting to know new coworkers faded, and her attachment to her former home and former life lessened.

Before she even knew it, she’d moved on.

Now, that’s a monumental life shift. Most of us will never experience a move like that, but we all have changes that we need to get used to.

Maybe we are getting acclimated to new jobs or to a life without a special relationship that meant so much. Maybe we are starting to travel more, or are going away to school. Maybe we are starting marriages or ending them.

I find it helpful to have things around that are comforting or familiar during a transition. I’ll drink my favorite tea, read a favorite book, or watch Netflix.

I mentioned The Walking Dead before, but some days a few episodes of Buck Rogers helps me pull myself together. It seems to affect my Parasympathetic Nervous System, reminding me of a simpler time, when all I needed was a starship and a bowl full of popcorn, a time long before I was old enough to realize how smoking hot Erin Gray was.