Remember when you were younger and the path was so clearly laid out before you? I sure do. There was never a doubt that I would go from high school to college and then some sort of graduate or professional school. Not everyone’s path is laid out on the same trajectory, but during our younger years, most of us had few choices to deviate from the inevitable.
But then at some point, we reached a point at which the transitions became our decisions. There was no clear “Now you do A, then B, then C.” Sure, you may have people “advising” you on what to do next, whether you should take this job or that one, get married, have children. And you may feel societal pressure to do certain things as well.
But ultimately, the decisions on which transitions to make and when to make them are ours and ours only.
We must own our transitions.
Change is never easy and it’s often scary, especially once you really, really decide to go ahead and go for it, whether it’s starting a new business, tossing an unfulfilling career to the side, getting a divorce, starting an exercise regime, or whatever transition you’re making.
But it’s so important that we don’t sit around and wait for someone to tell us it’s OK to make that transition. No one can do that for us. And even if you have the “approval” of people whose opinions you value, you’re still the one who actually has to put the work into making that change.
This is what I mean by owning your transitions:
Make the decision to change something in your life, and then give it your all to make it work, accepting the consequences no matter what.
And, incidentally, giving yourself credit where credit is due.
I’m coming up on nine years in Italy next month, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my decision to move here back in 2003. My decision to say “you know, I really don’t want to be a traditional lawyer” and pursue freelance writing, which still includes legal work, instead. My decision to try to build a life within the confines of a lifestyle I knew very little about but wanted to learn and incorporate into my very soul.
The only way I could’ve made it this far was by owning my decision to make that transition and by taking control of my life path. To be honest, I’m still a little amazed I did that when I was 26.
Seems a lot crazy looking back on it, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I am so very grateful for all that these last nine years have brought me, all the good, of course, but also the struggles of beginning a freelance writing career, those early days of making absolutely niente some months and living on pasta with garlic, olive oil, and peperoncino (on good days); the challenges of surviving in a new culture with rules that I never even thought to consider, like the fact that here in rural Calabria, women and men often still sit at opposite ends of the table at group dinners and most women turn down il vino with a wrinkle of the nose; the disappointment that some family and friends just never could get on board to care about what I was feeling and experiencing.
Yup, all of it. I own it all. It’s mine all mine, and no one can ever take any of that away from me, for better or worse.
I’m now coming up on 36 in October, and I know I have still have lots of big choices and decisions before me. Recently, the 26-year-old me has come up and tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that no matter how old I get, it’s still all about owning my transitions, my choices, my decisions.
And summoning up the courage and strength I had nine years ago and have only built upon since, I know I’m ready.
I can do this.
Are you ready to own your transitions?