It is an unavoidable truth that life is full of painful transitions. When we are born, we are ripped out of our warm, comfortable, and safe environment, the only existence that we have ever known, and are emerged into a cold, bright, and blinding world. Our first emotions experienced in this new world are fear and overwhelming anxiety.
Unfortunately, this is a natural part of life, and unfortunately every transition that we make in our lives is going to be filled with the same fear and anxiety. The first day of school is terrifying, the first day of high school, the first night in your new apartment living on your own, the first day of university; the list goes on and on. The transition is scary, but it is completely necessary, and when you think about it, the fear gives way to fantastic new experiences. Looking back on how amazing college or university was, would you have really wanted to stay in high school? Absolutely not. Well high school is perhaps a bad example, because NO ONE enjoyed high school.
If we stay in our comfortable bubble the rest of our lives, we may never experience fear, but then we won’t ever experience amazement and wonder either; all worthwhile experiences are achieved through stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
The things in life that shape us and that make us into who we are, they all come through transition and growth. Growth, however, can never be achieved without growing pains. The scariest transition for me has been transitioning from student to career professional. All of the previous transitions seemed to have an air of understanding and structure to them: you know when you graduate high school that the next 4 years of your life (or longer) will be spent at university, if that is the path that you have decided to embark on, and you just have to choose the right university. This is a stressful decision in itself, don’t get me wrong, but it is a decision with a planned out course of action.
Once you leave the beautiful, comfortable bubble of academia, however, you enter the ‘real world’ and NOTHING is planned out. There are no papers to write, no midterms, no comfortable categorizations and divisions of your time and efforts. There is just you and the world, and unfortunately for us Millennials, a job market right in the middle of an economic recession. In my university bubble I felt competent, positive, and like I would be able to do anything with my life. Now, after three years in the ‘work-force,’ I feel qualified for nothing, skeptical, and completely unsure of what to do with my life. This transition is scary and painful and I am just shutting my eyes and breathing through the pain, like when you get a foot cramp and know that there’s nothing that can alleviate the immediate discomfort and that you just have to go through it and wait for it to be over.
This sounds all so depressing and jaded, but I assure you that it is not. And here is why. When we are in a moment of growth and transition, we tend to look behind at the comfort that we have lost and focus on the immediate discomfort of having no frickin’ clue what we are doing and where we go from here, but we don’t often acknowledge what we have gained. I have been stressing myself out over trying to figure out my life and where to go from here, but I haven’t stop to acknowledge the beauty in my fear. I am staring at a blank wall with absolutely no plan, no answers, and again…no frickin’ clue, but why is that such a scary thing? Why do I need to know where I am going? And what is more, why haven’t I noticed the potential of this blank wall? In school I thought that I could do anything with my degree, so why has the ‘real world’ stripped that assurance from me? Maybe a blank wall with no answers is actually a blank canvas with infinite possibilities. Maybe the fact that I don’t only have one answer or one possibility means that I can do anything that I want to do. Maybe having no frickin’ clue means having the freedom to create the most beautiful painting on this blank canvas.
The fact that I have no idea where to go from here really means that I can go anywhere and do anything. Who doesn’t want that kind of freedom? Who doesn’t want that ability to make their life absolutely everything that they have ever wanted it to be? As Millennials, we sometimes tend to get overwhelmed by too many options that it becomes a daunting task to pick the right one. However, generations before us did not have the luxury of options, especially women, so we should remember what a blessing it is to have no clue, but still have the liberty to figure it out.
Instead of complaining in my sometimes overwhelming confusion at the cross-road of “what the heck do I do now” and “where on earth do I go,” I have decided to pause and realize the beauty in this moment of transition; I plan to acknowledge the complete freedom to create absolutely anything.
“Complaining is passive and powerless. Creating is proactive and powerful”
– Paul Angone, 101 Secrets for your Twenties