How to handle transitions in life


Let’s talk about life transitions today.

As you might know, I recently finished my dissertation and I will no longer be a student. I have been a student for about 24 years by now. So, this new chapter in my life is very exciting and I am looking forward to it but also a bit intimidating. I do not know how life is when you are not a student.

My new job is an office job, so it will have set hours. I did not have that as a student, especially as a PhD student, because my mind was constantly occupied with my research (though the actual work time was not that much, relatively speaking). So, I did not have free weekends or evenings. The idea of having free weekends genuinely excite me but in the past week, I also got a bit concerned. My mind is used to being occupied. What if it cannot handle having that much free time? So, I started looking for fun language classes I can take, dance classes where I can learn dances I have long wanted to and I am more relaxed now. At least, I have alternative ways in my mind to fulfill that emptiness. Maybe in time, I will like just having free times and not take classes but I need that in the transition.

This concern hit me because I decided to take this month as a completely free month where I really did not do much. I do not have my dissertation to be concerned about and I will start my job in June. So, this is a free time period. The first few weeks were fun because I did not have a time like this ever since I started my first graduate school 10 years ago. But then, the emptiness started bugging me, which led me to think of alternatives. I think I need a smoother transition from being fully occupied to calmness than I originally imagined.

How do you handle transitions in your life? Any suggestions? Let’s discuss life changes and ways to handle them today.


36 thoughts on “How to handle transitions in life

  1. Really interesting post, thank you. It’s made me reflect upon the transitions in my life. I do recall making the leap from studying to full time work. It was different. I suppose it’s a case of finding a new normal but also holding on to the parts of yourself that are important. It sounds as though you have thought this through already and have taken some really positive steps toward your new normal. I feel certain that you will make the best of this transition and wish you well in your new role. Incidentally, I now find myself a student again at the age of 42, with 5 children, having had a few career changes along the way. Each change has felt right for me at the time it has come along, but has also meant a period of adjustment, which is never easy, but always possible.

    1. I guess you are right. I kind of freaked out but then got my thoughts together. It is about accepting. Also, so happy for your new student life! What are you studying?

      1. It’s only natural to have a period of freaking out and then adjustment. My MA is Creative Writing. I was, in a previous life, a maths teacher. It’s strange and beautiful how life sends us in different directions.

  2. Hello Betul,

    Congratulations on your new job! I hope that it will work out very well. Also, I hope that you’re enjoying your weekends, no matter what you’re doing.

    As for the subject of transitions, I had a major one in the form of a sudden divorce years ago now. I found that I got very busy—doing, doing, doing. Now, when faced with transition, I go within and do my best to remain still. From there, I welcome new activities, etc.

  3. Betul, good subject.

    Society is very badly organized. First, the puppy’s play. Then, we tell them to sit still in school. Then, we tell them to exercise more.

    Then, as adult dogs they have to work, often long hours and commute too. Even when you have puppies you have to leave them long hours with minimal supervision! Then, society wonders why the puppies are misbehaving.

    Then, when the puppies are grown up, you are told your job is needed for younger dogs. This happens when you are really good at your job and you have given up on all your dreams about climbing mountains, sailing around the world, or being a rock star.

    So, from working 24/7 365 days a year with minimal sleep, there is now more free time than you can deal with. Your grand puppies are far away because you moved too many times to keep up with your job that you just have been early retired from.

    I protest! Bark! Bark! and Bark!

    1. Well, it is true but also we cannot individually change the system. So, I do not want to be reactive about it but accept it. Otherwise, I feel like I build up a lot of internal resentment inside and I do not like feeling that. And maybe at some point later in life, I will have a more balanced life.

  4. I like to read, but I also generally have a few projects going. Life is really disruptive for us right now, so I’m trying just to focus on the problem at hand (homelessness to be) and figure out what I need to do to get ready.

  5. Would suppose a difference, wait to transition until full understanding of requirements. Minimalizing bad behavior jus cause problems later; the circle would not accept a fraud.

  6. For more than a decade I had a job that kept me busy, but did not fulfill my mind. Once I had the routine down I began to fill nooks and crannies of unoccupied time (early mornings before the family was us, or time on the airplane) pursuing things that nagged at the back of my mind and sparked my curiosity. I drew and painted, and read about art and philosophy and the things I had been interested in during school.
    My advice is to remember that while your job defines a lot about what your days will look like, it is the curiosity which hums in the background that will help you feel more satisfied. When my job took a dramatic turn and I decided to leave, it was the “side” projects and passions that I had been working on which both kept me sane, but also gave me direction. Now my new career is much more aligned with those curiosity streams, but I am not giving up on what I do in my free time. Especially for someone who is used to doing research, make sure that you keep up with it at your own pace, on your own time, and in the areas that really pique your interest. Just because you are “out” of academia, doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to pursue that knowledge.
    Best of luck!

  7. Congrats on finishing your dissertation! That’s an awesome achievement! As for me, when I go through major transitions I like to find ways of grounding myself. That helps me avoid being overwhelmed, or if I do it helps me stay on course. Having hobbies is one; another thing that grounds me is strong human connections. I make sure they’re stronger than ever when I go through major life changes, even good changes. It might be rekindling faded friendships, joining community of like minded people, etc. People are grounded in people, as much as I hate to admit it lol. I’m more of a loner myself but I have to admit that I’m not always my own best friend.

  8. Hello Betul!
    Congratulations!!! What a great accomplishment! It’s going to take time. Give yourself time and grace to figure things out. Eventually you’ll find a pace you’re comfortable with, but it will take time.

  9. Ha I know this was from a long time ago, but I’m just now catching up on old emails. I always enjoy your posts, they are short and to the point, and I can always relate to them. I totally get what you mean: I usually am either a student and worker, or I work multiple jobs at once, and I rarely have time off. I kind of like it that way! I like to be busy! When I’m not busy, I watch way too much TV. I find that I am not good at being productive on my own. When I have work or school deadlines, I’m kind of forced to be productive, and the feeling of being productive is great! While the feeling of being unproductive sucks! Maybe this is something I need to work on, too. Soon I will also be done with school and I’m already applying for second jobs. But maybe I should focus on learning to make the best of my free time.

    1. Hi! I am happy that you can relate to my posts! Dream of any writer! I think it is not harmful to watch TV, even if it is too much, if you are otherwise productive enough. But I also think maybe if you can balance the work aspect, the TV aspect will regulate on its own too. Maybe you watch too much TV because your brain wants to make the most of the free time it is given. What do you think?

  10. Transitions are hard for me, even ones that seem to bring good. I often journal about my thoughts and feelings. I make a plan for the challenges I might face and in what ways I can cope with these.

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