Ahh transition. I teach this stuff. I do seminars. I write a blog for crying out loud. So I hate it when it actually applies to me.
Some of the best advice I ever got about transition (from a friend who also teaches this stuff) is that we are all like a cup with water in it (following me so far?). If there’s a little water in your cup you can put a tennis ball in there and the water level rises but there is still plenty of room for more water (translation – you got this). HOWEVER — If your cup is full . . . I mean to the brim full . . . and you put a tiny little peanut in there — the whole thing overflows.
What you’re left with is a mess.
That’s a pretty accurate illustration of my day.
I am full. To the brim — and today the peanut left a mess.
A bit of context. We’re moving to China (again) in a matter of weeks. We don’t have visas yet — or a place to live. I’ve got a boatload of stuff to do and I’m running out of time to do it. I’m trying really hard to say healthy goodbyes and help my family do the same. We’ve got stuff — too much stuff — stuff that we need to both get rid of and continue to use until the day we leave. Money is tight. Schedules are crazy. And time is moving much too fast.
My cup is full.
Turns out when my cup overflows I revert to my four year old self. I huff and I puff and I stomp away mad. I say things like “Oh yeah!! Well you’re a doody head . . . you big . . . doody head!!” I do things so childishly embarrassing that I would never dare write them in a blog post for the whole internet to read.
So for now I’ll stick to some painful lessons learned:
Lesson #1. Transition takes up space
If you (like me) are in the middle of a major life transition – that transition is hogging a big chunk of your cup. Parts of you are consumed by the simple fact that everything is about to change. You can try your hardest to move forward like today is just another day but you can’t escape the simple truth that is just around the corner (and hanging over your head).
Transition changes everything. That’s why they call it transition.
Lesson #2: Knowing is ONLY half the battle
GI Joe was right — “Knowing IS half the battle” which is a very sweet thought (thanks for that Joe) — but you’ve still got the other half of the battle to fight. Take me for example. Seconds before I stomped off like a four year old I said, and I quote, “my cup is overflowing . . .”
I knew what was happening. I called it out. I watched my cup overflow . . . and yet . . . still acted like a child.
It’s helpful to know the simple truths like “transition takes up space” but that doesn’t make you spill proof. No one escapes the evil clutches of massive life change.
Lesson #3: Momentary overflow does NOT define me
I had a bad day. I acted like a child. Truly unbecoming.
Ok. I own it. I take responsibility. But that’s not who I am every day. I didn’t act like that yesterday and I won’t act like that tomorrow.
Who you are in your worst moments is not who you are. It’s painful to discover what’s inside of you and likely to come out in the overflow. It’s also sobering to consider what you can be reduced to in your most vulnerable moments but those moments don’t mark you forever.
Lesson #4: If you are fortunate enough to receive grace don’t take it for granted
No one is at their best when their cup is full. That’s a given. There is a simple and unfortunate reality though that hurting people . . . hurt people. If this applies to you and you are blessed enough to have people in your life who recognize that you are not acting like yourself (when you are not acting like yourself). . . you are rich beyond measure.
DON’T let that be lost on you.
Lesson #5: Embrace the Yuck
Let’s get real. Parts of this transition are not at all good. In fact, they are bad.
For me it is the coming week. It’s going to suck the life out of me. There is no way around it. I’m going to work my tail off, stress like crazy, stay up late, get up early and go nuts in the process.
But it will end.
It’s going to be a hard week . . . but the week after that is going to be pretty cool.
I’m gonna’ make it . . . but ignoring the hard stuff isn’t why.
Lesson #6: If you’re cup is full – find a way to lower it
This is where it helps to know yourself. What refuels you? What gives you rest and energy and resets you for the next round of transition challenge?
My best bit of brilliant advice — do that.
Take it from me — not as a blogging, trainer who’s supposed to know something about transition but as an embarrassed doody head who is rounding out a bad day — you’ve GOT to be willing to give grace . . . and receive it. Tomorrow could be better.
Transition rarely comes without a mess but messes are rarely so horrible that they cannot be cleaned up.
I am so excited about tomorrow.
Alright — Confession time — Got some childish, overflow moments? You are not alone. Share them below and you might feel better — and even if you actually are the worst one ever — think of all of the people who will feel better because they’re not as bad as you.