In case you didn’t know already, transitions suck. Like, really suck. Not the “aw man my teacher is giving us a quiz on the day before winter break” suck. I’m talking about the “I spent 3 hours cooking this beautiful meal but I just dropped it all on the floor” suck…times a million.
It boggles my mind how foreign certain changes feel, as if all the tiles in the universe are shifting in the most unpleasant manner, while we ourselves tend to change as easily and as quickly as a Tinder swipe. I change my mind, I change my feelings, I change my opinions…but when it comes to changing from one stage to the next, from one period to another, I lose my shit. For someone who believes so strongly in the ever-changing nature of the soul, I am strangely attached to stability.
I moved in to my new apartment a week ago, and this week has been the longest, hardest, saddest transition I’ve ever had to make. From sunny weather to foggy mornings, driving in cars to trekking on foot, accessible homemade food to pricey take-out or mediocre cooking, old friends to new friends, living with parents to sleeping all alone…my entire system feels out of tune. The first three days, I bawled my eyes out. Why? I have no fucking clue, I was just sad. Not even at anything in particular (the worst kind of sad). I couldn’t stomach the fact that this was going to be my life for the next 4 years. A life without my parents down the hall, a life without seeing my best friends every day, a life without the comfort of living in the place where I grew up.
But hey hey hey, didn’t I make it through 4 years of undergrad like this? Yes, yes I did. And it sucked, but what made it bearable was that 1. I was (really) young, 2. I actually wanted to leave home and experience something/somewhere new, 3. I lived with one of my best friends, 4. come on, it was college and I was bright-eyed and naive. But 5 years from the day I moved into the dorms, now I am not so eager and in awe of the unknown. Maybe that’s a fault, but it’s also the reason starting optometry school has been such an emotional process for me.
So it’s been a week. Classes haven’t started yet, so I’ve really had time to settle in and calm it the F down. There haven’t been any more tears, but I still get nervous when I think about the next 4 years. I’m still checking plane tickets home every day, hoping for a price drop worth taking advantage of. I’m still calling and texting all of my old friends, latching on to a piece of home. And I’m still going back and forth in my mind about what I am doing with my life, an internal conversation I plan to have for the remainder of my time here at optometry school. That isn’t to say I don’t want to be an optometrist. I’m just saying it’s not the only thing I ever want to be.
Anyways. Here are my personal guidelines for how to survive the first week of (pretty much any) transitioning:
- Get comfortable. TGOD the place I’m living is clean, and my room is comfy. It’s a ~40 minute walk to campus/student civilization, but it’s in a nice neighborhood and close to public transport. If I lived in a shithole, I’d definitely still be crying. Additionally, get familiar with the surroundings. Get your schedule up and going. Get that routine down. This is where I am going to be for a while. Once I realized that, I could finally start planning and doing.
- Call a friend a day to keep the blues away. I guess texting is okay too, but calling is way more personal and will thus cheer you up way more. It should be a crime how easy it is to feel lonely when you’re alone in a new place. It’s tragic. And for someone like me who thinks my world is doomed if I don’t see a familiar face in a 24 hour period, I depend on phone calls to keep relationships/myself alive. Just talking about your day to someone who is willing to listen makes me feel like I CAN DO THIS YAAAS!
- Don’t keep in contact with romantic partners. Summer flings are the best, can I get a what what? But they can also be the worst if you let those summer feelings drift along into fall and winter. Keep those emotions and those memories in the season where they belong, be thankful that you even got to experience something as special and ethereal as a summer fling, and fight that urge to call/text the person you desperately want to talk to. (Calling all cynics: chances are, he/she probably already forgot about you anyway. Boom.) I guess if you have a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend or something, you should keep in contact with them. Don’t let that spark die.
- Eat good food. Similar to living in a shithole, eating shitty food is a sure way to dampen the spirits. Yah, I’m in tens of thousands of debt already. Yah, I could buy groceries and cook for way cheaper. But I’m gonna get that fucking extra guac because I NEED IT. Don’t underestimate the power of a yummy meal.
- Write shit down. In addition to talking it out, writing out my thoughts really helps me clear my mind and alleviate the sadness buildup. Diary, journal, blog, notes, whatever. Even if it’s just one sentence of how the day went or maybe one phrase that stuck in your mind that day: write. that. shit. down. And you can look back at it in a year and laugh at how silly you used to be.