In my case, the big transition was finishing graduate school and joining the workforce full-time. After being in higher education for seven years straight, I saw the end and could not wait to never have to write another paper or study for another exam.
I had always worked either through summers or part-time through graduate school, so I did not think that joining the work force full time would be all that different. So, when I finally graduated with my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and was able to get a job doing exactly what I hoped to do, I was over the moon! Look out life, here I come!
Then, it hit me. The excitement I expected was drowned out by anxiety, fear, and hesitation. I was overcome by feelings of worry, sadness, and apprehension. What was happening?
I was experiencing all that comes with a transition.
I realized I would not be going back to class. I would not regularly (or at all!) see my classmates or professors. It hit me that I would be leaving my part-time job that had become home to me for the three years I was in school. I was experiencing loss. I had to let go of my previous lifestyle so I could transition into my new normal.
This transition seamlessly came with a variety of feelings. I was sad about leaving my job and no longer seeing the people who had become so essential in my day-to-day life. I was also filled with anxiety and fear about what would happen next and if I would succeed. This fear of the unknown and self-doubt almost kept me from even taking the next step of getting a new job and I found myself worrying if I made the right choice in my career path.
I realized that I no longer had a schedule, a plan, or even something that I was working towards because I had accomplished my current goal of getting a Masters degree. I was beginning to experience a state of anome. Anome is something my professor would talk about during a course called Families in Transition. It is described as a state of normalessness. I no longer had a set routine, a place to be, an identity.
So I was left to think about my identity. I was a student. I loved getting and marking up a new planner, learning new things in class, and being around others who felt the same. I had some level of responsibility but I could always fall back on being in my “learning phase”. My identity was shifting. I would now become a full time professional.
What pulled me out of the downs of transitioning and into the ups?
P.S. Check out Mary Piper’s book Letters to a Young Therapist for additional encouragement and inspiration.