Learning how to “Be OK”

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok...

The lyrics of Ingrid Michaelson poured through my ears as I sat in my apartment, alone yet again on another Saturday night. My friends back at home were all going out to the bars and having fun together, and I was stuck 600 miles away at my new position. I was trying to not feel jealous, because I missed them all terribly, and I did not have anyone to go out with myself. I felt alone and ignored. I was miserable…and if I truly admitted it to myself, I was homesick.

When I moved to my graduate institution, I naively thought that I would not have a long or difficult adjustment period. I thought I would settle in and be busy right away. I wouldn’t have time to miss anyone or anything! I’d make friends right away! My staff would instantly love me! The truth of the matter is…none of that was true.

Change is a constant thing, and I had been going through a lot of it lately. I thought that I would be able to navigate ANY change with grace and ease. Would I miss my friends? Sure, but I’d get over it! I don’t talk to my parents every day anyway. What’s the harm in moving a ten-hour drive distance? Well…it was way more difficult than I thought, partially because I thought I was adept at making changes. But here’s the thing that I learned: no matter how many changes you face, each one has their own challenges and outcomes, and they’re all different. Just because I adjusted well to one change does not mean I’m going to adjust well to all of them. And that was a hard thing for me to understand.

As my graduate experience comes to a close, I know now the key to adjusting to change is to anticipate it. Welcome it. Embrace it. “Be ok” with it. I wish now that I had been more proactive in getting to know those around me. I could have reached out more to my fellow colleagues. I could have gone out into the community and found new and different things to do. I could have jumped into new friendships and relationships with both feet. But instead, I wallowed. I grieved. I felt sorry for myself. And yes, to a degree I should have let myself feel those emotions…but also thought about where they were coming from. These emotions blindsided me, because I somehow thought I wouldn’t feel them, and I think they were magnified because of that. I simply didn’t think I would be feeling those emotions and, therefore, let them take over. I foolishly thought the move was not going to affect me…when it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done to date.

Now that I am job searching and preparing to move back home, I know now to anticipate different emotions. I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be happy. But I might also be sad. I may miss the people that I’ve made connections with. I may have another transition period. But…that’s okay. It’s completely normal. I need to know that it may happen and I need to let myself acknowledge it and feel it. I can’t just think that I’ll be fine right away. It may take some time…but eventually, I know that I will adjust and “be ok.”

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