When working with clients, it feels like we’re unearthing layers of their life history. Often, we’ll find things clustered around dates, like a sudden proliferation of newspapers, receipts, and mail from a particular year. Once we work through that layer, we may come across another layer from an earlier date, and on it goes as we work down, or through, or across the area. When we come across them, I ask “Can you tell me what happened this year?” Usually, they can. And usually, it’s that a major transition happened then. Whatever system they had in place stopped working for them, freezing things in a layer.
Transitions shake up your regular flow of time and usage of space. A good example is when someone moves from being a grad student to the working world. Your overall focus shifts from theoretical to practical. Study has been replaced by doing, and the books move from vital texts you look at regularly to reference materials you may pull off the shelf now and then. Your research is something you may look at to snag some data, but it doesn’t take up all your focus anymore. When there’s a shift like that, folks are caught flat footed. They keep pushing along, still trying to structure their life and environment as if they were still a grad student, keeping books front and center while there’s no room for things they need to function in their new realm outside of school. That’s only an example. There are countless other things that qualify as transition. Birth, re entering the workforce, moving, moving in with partners, moving out, marriage, divorce, starting school, ending school, changing jobs, each has its own set of demands and needs to contend with. (that is so not a complete or definitive list) And each time, there’s potential to get bogged down in making the switch from one realm to another.
It’s not new or novel, we all do it to some extent. Next week (knock wood), I’ll be talking a bit more about transitions, how to understand them, and ways to cope with them.