Times of Transition can Feel Awkward and Uncomfortable. These Five Things can Help You Get Through with Grace

photo by jason leung on unsplash

photo by jason leung on unsplash

Our state bird here in Alaska is the willow ptarmigan. I think they are so adorable with their kind, watchful eyes and their legs and feet covered in feathers, like little built in bird snowpants.

They also have the wonderful ability to change color with the season. They are snow white in the winter and brown in the summer. And in the spring and fall…well, they’re in between. During these transitional seasons, as they morph from one color to the other, they have patches of both brown and white. They look kind of funny and far less majestic than they do in their dazzling, pure-white winter glory.

Ptarmigan in transition. Photo by dave menke on pixnio

Ptarmigan in transition. Photo by dave menke on pixnio

Transitions—even good ones—can be a little awkward at times. When I decided to leave the counseling field and pursue my dream of being a writer, I left a career in which I felt comfortable, skilled, and known. I transitioned into a world in which I’m virtually unknown and am a beginner in many ways. Still in the process of learning, adapting to and owning my new career, I sometimes feel like a patchy ptarmigan—caught between seasons and not yet fully integrated. Awkward. Inelegant.

Any time we enter a new season, there’s a potential for feelings of discomfort, vulnerability or insecurity. As we adjust to a new way of being or doing things, we sometimes find ourselves feeling a little off kilter or out of place, perhaps not as proficient or polished as we would like to be.

Even when it’s something we really want, transition can be tough. Thankfully, with God’s help, we can adapt to new seasons with grace. Here are five things that can help us through the process.

  1. Accept yourself where you’re at. It usually takes some time and experience in a new role to build a feeling of confident in that role, and we may feel a bit vulnerable or insecure at the outset. Accept that things might feel and look a little weird for awhile. That’s normal. If you moved into a new house, it’s going to take some time to get it organized and things might be a bit messy for awhile. If you started a new job, it’s going to take some time to learn new work patterns and get to know your co-workers. If you moved to a new city, it’s probably going to take time to make new friends and learn to navigate new streets.

  2. Take care of yourself. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating as nutritionally as possible. Because transition can be tumultuous, self-care can be harder to attend to, but it’s even more important during times of change. If we neglect it, in the long run we’ll regret it when we get run down, making dealing with transition even more difficult.

  3. Assess your priorities and practice good boundaries. Times of transition—even when they’re the most wonderful kinds of life transitions, like a promotion, a marriage, a new baby or a new job—can  through us off kilter as we have to adjust to new routines, new relational patterns, new ways of being, and learning new skills. These adjustments take extra energy, leaving us with less energy for other things. Take a look at your commitments. Decide what is most important and what you can realistically handle in your given season. Give yourself permission to put the rest on hold or let go of them. We’re most likely to excel and enjoy our transition when we can focus our energy on what is most essential.

  4. Allow yourself to feel. Transition often means letting go of one thing in order to embrace something new. Moving to a new city might be exciting, but it might also mean grief at having to say goodbye to old friends. During times of change, it’s normal to feel sadness and joy. Accept that these emotions often co-exist and that does not negate one or the other. Allow yourself to process what you’ve left behind while simultaneously celebrating the new.

  5. Have a sense of humor. Let yourself laugh, including at yourself (in a nice way :). Like the fall time ptarmigan, we can look and feel a little silly during transition. Keeping things lighthearted can help keep stress at bay.

Are you in a time of transition? Have you moved? Had a baby? Started a new job? Left a job? What challenges have you faced? What have you found that has helped your adjust and adapt? I’d love to hear about it!


With love,

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“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV).


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