Our daughter got married last weekend, and it was a joyous occasion. People have been asking me what it felt like to be the father of the bride, and I had to confess that I had a hard time knowing – this was a first in my lifetime!
That got me thinking about how life is a series of firsts. First day at school, graduating, going to college, getting married, getting a first job … and the countless other minor things which are constantly changing.
When you’ve done something several times, you know what to expect. But when you’re experiencing it the first time, it’s disorienting. Others may give you advice and wisdom, but it’s still new to you.
When you’re a kid, these experiences come thick and fast. Everything seems constantly new, constantly changing. That can be fun and exciting if it’s built on the foundation of a stable home.
But when I was a child, I didn’t realize that my parents were going through similar transitions. When I went to school, it was a change for them because it affected how they related to me and what I was involved in. When my father changed jobs, it must have been a traumatic experience for my parents, although to me it seemed a minor event.
Becoming parents of newlyweds is interesting, and not a little disorienting. But we do have some models (in particular, our parents) of what we’re moving toward.
Adults have different kinds of transitions and life events, but they’re no less interesting and impactful than what happens to kids.
With all transitions, there’s something you’re moving away from, something you’re moving toward, and disorienting process of change in between. I find that it’s really helpful to get as clear as possible on exactly what these are. Sure, there’s things you don’t know, but you can usually have a list of what those areas are.
What you’re doing is building a more solid foundation for the experience. When you know what’s going to change and what won’t, you know what to pay attention to. And it helps to build your faith and fortitude for staying on course through the disorientation.
What’s the next change you’re headed towards – in your career or personal life?