From the tedious flux of the mundane to the shifting seasons of relationships and career to seismic disruptions of death, divorce, and disease, life is transition.
Many squeak by without notice, others crack and split the foundations of our lives, and the worst make our world a strange and alien place. Some come to us by the rhythmic pattering of russet leaves on new frost, some call us at 2AM, and some we choose in order to get that new house or a summer road trip with the kids.
We have a lot of practice with transitions, so why the hell do they still feel so tricky?
Acquiring new skills or adjusting to shifts in our day challenge us. Neuroscience research shows our brains love familiarity and have no problem cueing up negativity bias to keep us safe. No matter the neurotype, creating new pathways and cultivating change will demand discomfort. Unfortunately, shaking our fists at biology will not ease the process.
And while everyone is haunted by the wobbly-knees and sweaty pits of great change, no one struggles more than neurodivergent folks. We often stumble through them: pissed we can’t connect more dots faster, anxious we will be exposed as a fraud, and afraid we are cursed by our limitations. To bathroom mirrors we whisper, “You should be able to handle something like this by now.”
Despite our complicated relationship with change, we must accept its inevitability; it’s the ticket price for something better.
For me, transitions awake the acute awareness of the paradox of change —and who I am inside of it. While I desire growth or something more, I grieve easiness. While my gifts and previously collected skills perch themselves squarely on my shoulders— signaling to the room I've kinda got this, my legs struggle to wade through the old stories and new demands at my feet—making me question if I have what it takes.
In one hand, I roll the sweet softness of possibility through my fingertips, and in the other, I tug-of-war with Life as it yanks at things I am not ready to release.
In my experience, transitions by choice have not proved any easier than the ones piled on by Life. My inability to stay with a continuous flow of gratitude or certitude during these changes by design have marked some of the loneliest, most suffocating seasons in my life.
Living in a hustle culture which praises speedy, tidy bows, much of my struggle around transitions has been reconciling how I actually feel versus how springtime, loss, a new marriage, or reaching the next step is supposed to feel. Society tosses no's, aging, and loss into the bad bin; the yeses and the gains are housed in the good bin.
I have never experienced any great change to be one or the other.
It is no wonder why we often find ourselves lonely, confused, or stuck during these times.
So, where can we find a little more ease?
Over the last two years, I have walked, skipped, and sometimes crawled through two life-altering transitions, one of my own making and one of the season of life variety. As I write these words, another significant one peaks over the horizon. Although transitions have yet to become a familiar friend, my stomach isn't in my throat.
I no longer resist their fundamental nature: they hold both promise and grief.
I accept the ease I long for during transitions may never be acquired through skill or discipline, or measured by how fast I find steady ground, or affirmed by collecting cues from other eyes.
This acceptance feels sturdy— made of something gritty and real, something malleable and faithful, something housed within me instead of out there.
With this acceptance, I keep three questions humming within me:
What is possible if I am BOTH resourced and green?
What is getting in the way of me giving myself permission to ride this wave today?
What is possible if I do not spend my energy resisting WHAT IS?
And on the days I am able to surrender to these questions:
I stay tender to the needs of this day.
I see more options in my line of vision.
I stay soft to my human limitations.
I stay sober to my strengths.
I can recall all of the times I have been broken open... and expanded.
What holds you back in times of change and
what gives you wings?
Sarah Durham is a Neurodivergent Coach who partners with teens and adults who are struggling to manage life through different milestones, transitions, or changes. You can find out more about her at www.kattywhompous.com