Back to Work, Back to School: The Art of Transitions and Shifting Gracefully

As the heat of summer cools to more windy autumnal days, it is strange (and oftentimes stressful) to think of the ways in which the seemingly eternal point of pause that we have been set in during the pandemic has lifted in certain ways and is now transitioning to a more “normal” pace. Schools and universities are beginning attempts in shifting to a virtual start of semesters, and some workers are even beginning their slow and measured returns to offices after months of working remotely from home. After what feels like an eternity of nothing changing and everything being suspended in time exactly the way it is, these hints at transition and moving forward should be refreshing! But, as it turns out, this isn’t always the case. For many people, learning how to take on these familiar yet still new circumstances can be just as stressful as sitting day after day waiting for answers. So, when that return to the office from the comfort of your WFH space is looking daunting, here are some things to keep in mind to build your resiliency and face these changes with grace and confidence.

Know That Change is Natural (And Necessary)

Change is natural. Stagnancy isn’t. We as humans are made to grow, to expand, to live. And you cannot ever truly live and experience the real beauty that life has to offer if you are just going through the motions of what makes you feel most comfortable. The most beautiful and most memorable moments in life happen in these states of transition. Just look outside at the sun shifting from the bright-white light of summer to the more golden hues of autumn. It is in these moments of new-ness that we can find beauty in change. Change can be finding a new perspective. A new set of eyes. A new light cast upon life. You cannot ever keep up with the pace of life as it changes without facing small or large transitions within yourself.

While also knowing your boundaries and where you may need to stop is also an essential part of self-realization, to become a resilient person is to understand that when change presents itself and you are in the right position to take it and grow from it, you shouldn’t fight it.

See What You Are Leaving Behind, Where You Are Now & What Still Lies Ahead of You

            In order to move forward with your life and into these transitions, you must acknowledge and understand what exactly it is that you are leaving behind and give yourself room to mourn for it. Perhaps what is making your return to the workplace so daunting is knowing that you will no longer have the flexibility or comfort of working within your own space and on your own time. Allow yourself the time to reflect upon this now past life, but remember not to dwell on it. Instead, cherish the memories that you may have made within that existence and fully internalize the lessons you may have learned.

            After you have reflected upon where you have been, consider where you are now. With the knowledge and skills that you have learned from these past few months, would you rather return to that time where so little was known that you can only look back on that past self as naïve? It’s a simple case of “If I knew then what I know now…” Understand that now is the best place for you to be. Life happens in the present. Be here for it.

            Lastly, be excited for what still lies ahead of you! New experiences are still to come. There are so many more memories for you to make. So take the memories and lessons from what you’ve left behind, realize the beauty of being in the now, and use your excitement and enthusiasm for the future to inform your decisions and reactions today and move into a better, more beautiful tomorrow.

Understand What You Can (And Can’t) Control

            While we as humans are all capable of change within ourselves, we can never be held accountable for our inability to control the change of others or outside forces. It is always important to understand what is within our control as we change on our journeys of resilient transition. As we have seen these past many months, there are some things (a global pandemic, anyone?) over which we can never hold any power. So, while we may not be able to change our boss’ decision to move work back to the office, nor can we decide or know when this transition back to “normal” will ever truly feel normal again, we can always control how we change and adapt in our resiliency to meet these circumstances. Instead of focusing on blaming things we cannot control, perhaps we can shift focus to understand what we can do for ourselves to make the situation an opportunity for new, fruitful experiences.

Slow Down Your Thoughts to Re-Organize Them

            Lastly, it is important to truly take time to re-evaluate your thought processes during this time of transition. It can be easy to think in terms of absolutes: i.e. “I was happy and relaxed then, and I won’t be now.” Or “I had time to do things then and I won’t have that now.” These absolutes are toxic, as life doesn’t occur in black and white as much as we might lead ourselves to believe. Everything comes with a shade of nuance, and it is important to remember that while it is nice to cherish and reminisce on past memories, it is also extremely easy to romanticize them. So while it may be true that you may have been happy when you had more time for yourself away from the workplace, it may also be significant to remember the many times you felt bored and restless to go somewhere, anywhere. With this in mind, you may be able to face this new moment of transition with a more balanced mindset.

            As you stand at the brink and threshold of transition, sort out your priorities and re-center your mind around your strengths. After this long moment of pause that we are coming from in these past months, we are in our most internalized states. So ask yourself: Is this how I want to spend these precious next moments of my life? Knowing that life and time could be suspended again just as quickly as it restarted tomorrow, would I regret what I did with my time today? Think about how transition and change can lead you to a life with these priorities in mind.

In life, there are always going to be obstacles that you will have to overcome in order to transition into a better, more beautiful existence. And just as you had the tools and capability to triumph over those past challenges, you maintain that same aptitude now as you face these new ones. Resiliency and the effort to meet change with positivity and grace is one of the most courageous acts we can make in our lives. Really sink into these moments of transition. Breathe in. Breathe out. Go live.