Hey y’all! ::waving:: Ricks announced her return to our blog a few days ago. I’m slipping in quickly to share some reflections.
Those of you who know me in real life know that I am moving to began a tenure track position in Atlanta, Georgia (inserts applause and jumps for joy).
When I was offered the job in early March, I had no idea what the subsequent three months would look or feel like. Because Memphis was a challenging city to adjust to, I thought I would spend the next three months enjoying the life-long friends I met here but generally counting down to my move. That has hardly been the case. When June hit, so did ALL THE FEELS. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. I’m leaving Memphis for Atlanta. Transitioning from PhD student to tenure track professor. Leaving folks I love, some of whom will not make the journey with me (literally and figuratively).
For the last six weeks, I’ve been managing, suppressing, questioning, fighting, and accepting those feels. Friday, I went to see the movie Inside Out. OMG. All the cute. Also relevant, because the whole film deals with the reality that conflicting emotions are normal and often necessary. Like…we can’t have joy without sadness. I’m pretty sure that movie was not written for children, but I digress. (Sidenote: I may or may not have cried through half the movie, because….feelings). Anyway, that film, plus all the layers of this transition, plus long emails and conversations with my favorites led to this post. Just a few comments on transitions, in case other folks are struggling through some of their own.
1. Conflicting emotions are OK. I already told you I feel all the things. At this very moment, sadness lurks underneath a very real excitement that I have for breaking bread with some of my favorite Memphians tonight. I’m also feeling the buoyancy that only love seems to provide. I’m excited about my new job, excited about what this dissertation will be when I have finished it, overwhelmed by having to find a new place to live. See? All the feels. And sometimes they don’t make sense. That’s alright. I (we) need them all.
2. Transitions are multilayered. I’m not just moving to another city. I have to pack my life in boxes, sort through the things that make my apartment “home.” I am navigating requests/suggestions for lunch/dinner/happy hour, to which I have said “no” many times because I can’t manage them all. Saying goodbye over and over is a real drag, ya know? I am prepping for my fall courses. Mentally preparing to live in a different city. Surrendering to the realities that location changes often necessitate (or foreshadow) relationship changes. That’s a lot. Give yourself grace. (Note to self: Grace, Reese. Grace)
3. You need your people. My friends, family, friends-turned-family are the gift that keep on giving. In June, I drove from Memphis to Dallas to Austin to Waco to Crockett. I had planned to attend a conference in Austin, and instead of flying, I drove. Seeing family and friends blessed my heart so. We didn’t have to talk much about transitions. Bourbon, margaritas, laughs, and hugs were enough. I needed them more than I knew. In my day-to-day life, there are some folks in Memphis and beyond who keep me sane, because they just me be my indecisive, sometimes emotional, quirky self. They know it is sometimes hard for me to articulate when I’m overwhelmed, but when I sent out an email to my inner circle saying just that, they responded with compassion, encouragement, and desires to spring into action on my behalf. My god dad always says, “if you don’t get anything else, get you some friends.” Yes. Get you some.
4. Your people will not begrudge you for needing space or time. Between writing, prepping for the move, and all the feels, I have been selective about who I see and talk to. A few days ago, I sent a text to my friend K.T. saying, “I love you sister. I know I ain’t been present. I’m struggling with some of these transitions.” She responded: “It’s gonna be ok. Hell, we all have moments where we ain’t present. One of those seasons. I love you too, sis. You could go radio silent for months and I wouldn’t feel slighted at all. No worries.” (cue water works) Yes, K.T. yes. That’s love and grace in action.
5. All those things you read about self-care, loving yourself, etc.? This is the time to practice them. Your self-care practices might look differently during intense transitions, but if they completely disappear, all the feels will just intensify. This morning Ricks sent me: “I am sorry you feel overwhelmed. I think the beautiful thing is that there are only two maybe three things that require your attention. 1. Finish your diss, 2. packing your stuff, 3. moving. The rest of it will take care of itself whether or not you fret over it.” Her message reminded me that even though I have all the feels, I have three very real action items that require my attention. To do these things, I have to make sure I am being conscious and intentional about self-care practices that are important to me. (Thanks Ricks)
6. As you feel all the feels, remember joy and gratitude are always appropriate. Always. Always. No exception. Hard things happen. Sad things happen. But if I sit still enough, I can always find something that brings me joy or that make me feel grateful. Usually, I don’t have to look very far.
So, I know that wasn’t really an update on my life, but eh. It was necessary. Here’s to embracing all the beauty and craziness that accompany life’s transitions.