There are times in our lives when we’re neither ’here’ nor ’there’. We may have left the safe shores of one way of life but have not yet arrived at the next. We may even be wondering if we got on the right boat!
Others seem to plan their lives meticulously. They go from A to B without ever putting a foot wrong. These people may experience the opposite of being in transition, they may feel that they are stuck on a linear route and experiencing very little adventure. There’s no right way or wrong way, as long as you are following your own inner sense of direction, or lack of direction, if that’s your style.
I’m feeling lost and don’t like it.
Whatever your innate style of navigating our way through life, our psyches tend to complain when we’re not sure where we’re at. I have found myself wondering in these past months where my base is at the moment, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, or none of the above. I am not really that bothered but I feel under pressure when people want to get some sense out of us. Others say ‘’so what are your plans?’’ Somehow the answer ‘we haven’t really got a clue but we’re enjoying the ride’ is adequate.
People can be in transition in many different ways. Couples transition from being lovers to being parents. Children transition from being under our safe roofs to spreading their wings and finding their own way in the world. Internationals are constantly pushing the envelope, from having been settled in one place, to becoming temporarily unsettled in another.
The talent, I believe, is to take care of our insecurities by staying with the unknown: the, as yet, not clear path ahead. We can always ask for direction from a higher power when we find ourselves in confusion but the signposts are often pretty unclear, as if we’re meant to literally ‘wander and wonder’ for a while. In the dark of night seeing one, and one signpost only, pointing in a direction that you never thought you’d take, can be frightening rather than helpful.
I purposely drove into a small country lane today that was the only one of four that had no signpost whatsoever; just to see where it would lead me. What ARE you doing questioned my inner GPS. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I answered.
Trust is an important quality to develop when we’re in transition. There have been many times when I have been fearful, distrusting, and convinced I was making a big mess of my life. But in the end, I always seemed to have arrived in the right place at the right time. In time I have learned to trust in something Beyond me knowing what’s best, but at the same time, I have also learned we are allowed to take the oars and guide our boat to what takes our fancy. It’s a dance. Curiosity doesn’t always kill cats.
If we fear change we will never allow ourselves to enter that place of transitional confusion where things can be ended before new experiences can begin.
So you’re in transitional chaos? Try not to fight it. Avoid trying to organise it into something logical, into a good narrative to satisfy the questioners. Stop and be confused and discover more who you are, and who you are not. Brrr… scary, sure. We may experience insecurity about whether our intended direction was the right one, and we may question whether it will lead to a path where we can once again feel purposeful and useful. But we may also reach an inner state where we can sit back and say, what will be will be. All of us need to have a sense of meaning, but it is equally important to let the meaning manifest itself out of the chaos, rather than come up with solutions that take away the sense of being lost, but may not lead you in the direction that is ultimately the right one.
Being back in the country of my youth I have time to reflect on the many changes of direction that my life has taken in the past forty-nine years. Paths that seemed right, turned out to lead to different goals than I envisaged, although the experiences that I gained along the way were never lost. I have literally been having a sense of ‘collecting myself’ as I cycle and drive past the experiences of my youth. For now, for ever, who knows?
It has taken me a long time to learn that I can’t know what lies ahead. We can only look at where we are, in this moment in time, and decide if we want to intentionally make changes or not. Where those changes will lead us is anybody’s guess.
A person who has been caught up all her life in the coldness of her upbringing, the new direction might be a hope that love can be a part of her life too. For the man who invested all his talents into a career, the new direction might be to look inside and see if there are hopes and dreams that need attention.
But whatever decision we make, whatever intentions we send out into universe, we also need to accept that the result of our re-orientation will not be immediately clear. That there will always be a period of transition, of being a little lost. Being lost in transition is part and parcel of the adventure.
So if you’re in a new phase of life and feeling a little lost, take heart, you are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, all is well. And if you are that someone who refuses to change direction, even though the longing for something new is becoming unbearable, dare to take a leap of faith into the unknown. Dare to be in a place where the landscape is different, and accept that things will be a little muddled at first. Allow yourself the time to let it ‘sit’ with you for as long as it needs. Life is truly a journey.
Be brave and have the courage to be confused.