By Liz Chang
The furniture fidgets got me last week for the first time in six months, and the reality of transition has become too obvious for me to ignore. I am moving out of a full-time-student-with-work-on-the-side world into a full-time-employee-with-workshops-on-the-side world.
I find myself resisting and embracing the change.
Hours and hours. Those hours that were once spent pouring my soul over self-reflective papers and research studies have now become hours that I resist learning to make new use of, especially on those evenings when I sit in my room watching television for hours. How did I embrace a 4-hour outlet mall trip with friends last week? When I was in school, I could not last more than thirty minutes of being in a store with friends without feeling guilt for wasting precious homework time.
Stress and commitments. Three years of studying in a Masters program gave me plenty of stress to push me to cut back on other life commitments such as church involvement, social events and friendships, and oftentimes the self-care that I needed. Each year of school stress made me wish I had fewer and fewer commitments, and I longed for the day when I would have a “manageable” amount of stress. Here I am on the other side of graduate school stress, and I find myself resisting the idea of having any gaps in my schedule. Instead, I am embracing new commitments, reconnecting with friends, and packing my schedule with all the social time that I think I missed out on over the past year. Is this self-care or setting myself up for the amount of stress that I have grown accustomed to having in my life? I think it could be both.
Money and budgeting. As I was a child and family therapist intern, I could not wait to have a full-time job so that I could get paid for the work I put in and set up a budget for myself. I grew tired of living from month to month, depending on loans and my parents’ financial support. Here I am, with a job set up for full-time employment, and I am resisting the idea of having an income because that means it is time to start paying off debt and be more responsible with the money I earn. At the same time, I embrace and am excited about full-time employment because that means I am paid for my labor and I will soon have the means to support my parents.
This is why I got the furniture fidgets.
Transitions in life have a way of pushing and pulling me to be who God created me to be. The push comes with inevitable life changes, and the pull comes with character refinement. As I become aware of the ways I am resisting the inevitable life changes that lie ahead, I am challenged to embrace the character refinement that can happen throughout the change. So, to resist and embrace is the paradox in which I find myself living these days. And that is completely OK.
How do you sit with the paradox of resistance and embrace that comes with transitions in life?