In Motion: Lessons from a summer of transition.

Me and some of my favorite future PhDs. #Cubenation, hold it down.

Me and some of my favorite future PhDs. #Cubenation, hold it down.

I’m almost certain when I look back in a few years I’ll have some trendy name (e.g. “Bluppie Beginnings” or something like that) for this summer of transition. There have been many changes — endings, shifts, new beginnings — in less than 15 weeks. I finally completed grad school, left my doctoral internship of four years, and moved all the way to Texas to begin a new career. At this point, almost every day is a blur. However, it hasn’t been lost on me that this is, and has been, the goal. This very moment. This phase. It’s what I’ve been working for: I’m in motion.

There have been moments, several of them, where I’ve been overwhelmed by the emotions I feel. I loved my role with University Housing, and transitioning to my replacement was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m pretty sure I dropped a single thug tear on the day I grudgingly relinquished control of our social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, Storify, Google+ — all of it!). I immediately had to unfollow each one so I would not begin obsessing over what I was letting go. I had to repeat to myself: Felicia, you cannot be a doctoral intern for the rest of your life.

I’ve shared this mantra with several of my friends and colleagues who are also in their own moments of transition — it seems like everyone I know is beginning a new career or ending an old one, going back to school, starting a new relationship, or experiencing some other form of change (the only constant in life). In the midst of these conversations, and the nervous excitement+fear that exists within them, I’ve been able to find comfort in knowing that movement/change/growth is almost always paired with understanding that:

(1) All MOST things go. And we need to let them. All the people, places, and things we encounter in our lives would clutter our journey if we dragged them from one location to the next. I left a great grad school support system in Athens (shout out to #cubenation), but with the role that I’m transitioning into, I need (not merely want, need) a new network — one that can support the challenges and triumphs of my new position. Granted, some things will have a place in your heart forever, but letting go is a must in order to welcome what’s new.

(2) Plans should be made in pencil. I’ve never been big on planning, so I don’t know what I was thinking making grand plans this summer (of all summers). Looking back at my early journal entries, almost everything has been tweaked, erased, or done completely different than I expected. And that’s okay, because I know how (read: am learning) to roll with the punches. But, oh boy, do those sucker punches hurt.

(3) “Failure is inevitable. THAT is the liberating moment.” Melissa Harris-Perry dropped this gem during her keynote at NASPA in New Orleans and I have it etched in my brain. It is not if I mess up, but a matter of when I mess up, and how I overcome my failures. How will I learn from them? I’ve made some crazy rookie mistakes this summer — during my move, planning my budget, getting rid of ALL of my furniture for a “clean start” and now sitting in a empty room full of boxes, etc. The comfort is in knowing that there’s no way possible I would have made it through this transition without err. So from the looks of it, living out of boxes isn’t that bad.

(4) E.G.B.O.K. (Everything is going to be okay). Just like it always has been. Some time this summer I found myself driving around Columbus reflecting on how I felt when I moved to Athens five years ago. I had very little help for my move, so anything I couldn’t lift and put on the U-Haul I pushed (barely) to the side of the road. I drove away the next morning with an entire apartment on the curb, crying. When I arrived in Athens, I cried almost every night. It was one of the darkest times of my life (as most people would describe their early weeks in grad school). I was so distraught. But then I wasn’t anymore. And then I was, dare I say it, happy. That series of memories reminded me that if I could just think back to when I was the most sad I’ve ever been… the most lonely, the most afraid, the most fearful… and remember that, somehow, I overcame those feelings, I can get through this transition, too.


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