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Navigating Unexpected Transition

Updated: May 17, 2023

Can you remember the first real, life-altering change you had in your life? Whether it was related to your family, friendships, health, or city you lived in, I believe that these uncomfortable, uncertain moments in our lives are those that shape us.

wing of airplane above the clouds

I can think of several events, like the day I decided to attend ASU, the chapter meeting when I was elected chapter president, and the drive I was on when I got the call offering me the leadership consultant role, that triggered seasons of transition in my life. These were all exciting opportunities that by saying yes to them opened doors and changed the trajectory of the years that followed. While the opportunities I listed are positive moments that I reflect on, the doors that they opened were not always easy. But the hard conversations, controversial decisions, and challenges that I dealt with within each chapter of my journey shaped me into the woman I am today.

The rapid-fire series of changes I’ve experienced more recently has made me feel like a transition expert! I physically moved from Arizona to Colorado for a relationship, redirected my professional trajectory, and relationally needed to build a new community with my boyfriend in Denver. My best friend made the comment amid all the change, “Cass, in the past 4 months, I’m not sure anything in your life is the same besides your family, friends, and faith.” 

While these changes that happened were exciting and planned, there was still a level of uncertainty with them. What gave me confidence in the risks I was taking in each transition was being in tune with what I believe in (my faith) and those who know me best & want the best for me (my family and friends). As a recovering people-pleaser, I am not always the most receptive to feedback. So you can only imagine how humbling it was for me to allow others’ insight to redirect how I think and act. But, realigning your priorities to reflect trusted external perspectives is sometimes exactly what we need to step into uncertainty with confidence. 

Transitions like the ones I just experienced, though the outcome was uncertain, were planned. They happened on my timing within my control and comfort level. But there’s another kind of transition that we can feel thrown or forced into by circumstances beyond our control. This kind of unanticipated transition evokes its own emotional reaction. Like the kind that we’d experience if we got caught in the middle of a global pandemic… 

woman typing on computer with phone and coffee mug on the table

I’ve watched the implications of the coronavirus and it’s required lifestyle adjustments affect everyone in their own way. As someone who already worked from home feeling the impact of the stay at home order, I can only imagine how much more drastic these changes would feel for society. I know of students who left for spring break and haven’t been able to go back to their chapter houses to get their things. My brother’s graduation ceremony has been cancelled. Sisters who travel for work are grounded to visit their clients virtually. People are losing their jobs as companies lose business. I feel the restlessness of fear and sense of scarcity. This unprecedented event is triggering unexpected transition for every individual and our society to navigate. 

When we have an outlined plan of change, we can step into transition with excitement and eager anticipation despite the uncertainty. When the season of transition is triggered by something out of our control, it is much harder to accept our new reality.

Before officially moving to Colorado, I felt like I’d been putting out fires addressing everything that came with the transitions. I was so eager to settle into a routine and experience rest. While this new season has definitely brought a new routine and a lot of rest, it’s not the way I imagined it… and it still feels like there’s a fire needing to be put out. 

Can you relate to that? Maybe after spring break, you had goals to approach the second half of your semester or last quarter differently either socially, academically, or level of involvement. Maybe you’re graduating in May and had a list of lasts to check off. Whatever you were looking forward to in this last couple weeks of your academic year, your plans have probably changed.

I know most of you probably feel displaced, adjusting to a new routine with a lot of extra time on your hands in a place that you weren’t planning to be. This unexpected adjustment mode that we’re all experiencing deserves just as much reflection as those transitions we plan in our timing. In your newfound down time, take a minute a reflect on these questions:

  1. What were you looking forward to for the rest of the academic year?

  2. Can elements of what you were looking forward be incorporated in your new reality?

  3. What do you need to feel content about yourself and the situation?

  4. Who can you reach out to to support you through this transition?

  5. Who needs you to support them through this transition?

Unpacking what you feel as you navigate this new chapter of your journey will help you accept what was lost and refocus on the opportunities in front of you. Even though the type of transition I've experienced recently was within in my control, I believe we still need to rely on what we believe in and those who love us best to provide us direction and confidence in the adjustment.

While this season is far from ideal, I challenge you to look for what you CAN do, how you can make the most of this part of your journey. You are not alone and the best is yet to come, sister✨ #yoursororityjourney

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