There is more to transitioning than meets the eye. In the past I just blazed through transitions, ignoring the red flags warning me to slow down. This time I’m trying not to do that. In the end transitions are exhausting mentally and drain me physically. There is a lot more going on than just adjusting to a time change, different foods, or driving laws.
There are many reasons for transitions being difficult, but they don’t have to be that way. All of these hurdles can become good things. One of the biggest hurdles to get through during transitions is renewing relationships. I used to have the mindset that I could just pick up wherever I left off with people, and to a certain degree that is true, but picking up exactly where you left off tends to undermine everything that happened while you both were apart. A lot has happened over the past year, and ignoring it can make relationships feel shallow and empty. I start to run away from people when I feel like things have become shallow, so it is important for me to create a platform with my friends and family to share what happened when I was gone. In a way we are starting over with a new relationship, recognizing that we are both different than when I left. The best way to grow relationships is not to ignore the obvious, but rather ask questions, listen to answers, enjoy sharing stories, and to start sharing new experiences together to rebuild memories.
Another hurdle that I struggle with is identity. Wherever we go, people see us in a certain way. It’s amazing how much identity can change from place to place, even though I don’t necessarily change. It is stressful to see yourself from other people’s perspectives, and it’s even harder to keep adjusting back and forth between place to place and from opinion to opinion. Sometimes it feels like I have no control over how people see me or potentially judge my actions and decisions. For this particular move, I came back to live with my parents, which I’m personally thrilled about. Even so there is still a different identity of me as a kid living with my family verses a young adult capable of living independently. It isn’t a problem, but it is a change and adjustment. Ultimately, I don’t change. I strive to build my identity in Christ and the Spirit's guidance, and beyond that I adjust to whatever He leads me to adjust to.
The biggest hurdle that I struggle with is adjusting back to culture. I won’t comment on cultural differences here, lest I offend people all over the globe, but I will say that I have lived in some pretty diverse cultural areas over the course of my life. I have seen extremes from both sides of the scale of cultural beliefs, and I tend to think the majority of the disagreements should not even matter. It is difficult to keep switching cultures, because what inevitably happens is the person who does keep switching cultures creates a culture of his own, recognizing that wherever you go, you’ll be different than the culture around you. It is a good change because I believe it makes me more balanced and grounded in my beliefs, which is one reason I think it is great for kids to travel. But it also makes it difficult for that person to build close relationships with people who only recognize their one culture. It feels almost impossible to explain my thoughts and actions on a lot of issues, because it boils down to what God has taught me from place to place, and culture to culture. It does make friendships much sweeter and stronger when you meet those who understand that type of growth and “third culture” feeling and recognize a different type of strength that only comes from a culturally diverse background.
I’m not complaining at all. I consider dealing with adjustments as a gift, and I’m so thankful for the person they have made me to be. It is good for me and others around me to start recognizing why I’m physically wiped out, or why I struggle getting back to where I was a year ago. It is also good to use the experience to grow my relationship with God, knowing that He has set all this up for a reason. It is also a perfect opportunity for a life reset, searching for new doors that God is opening for me that might not have been possible a year ago. It is all good; it is just a change.