Dear 100 Hour Board,
I recently realized that the current routine I have in my life is not going to last very much longer. I'll be leaving on clinical rotations for my degree in about a year, after which I'll be done with school and working who-knows-where. But then I realized that one of my friends will be graduating from his program in December, a few others are graduating this Spring, several already have plans to move away in a couple months, and honestly most of them will probably be moving after they graduate. Essentially, the life I'm used to right now is ending sooner than I realized, which is uncomfortable. It's also making me wonder how much of what is important to me right now is going to fall apart. My group of friends that I hang out with every Sunday will soon be non-existent, and that's the one time I most look forward to every week. The roommates I've had for years will be gone, and for at least a few months I'll need to find somewhere to live without them. Even my D&D group will be disbanding, the only group I've ever played D&D with. I honestly have no idea what my life will look like in two years, or even one year. Just... weird times right now.
What have been some of your experiences with major changes? Things that you expected to happen that didn't, times when you didn't know what to expect, etc. I know that it always works out (often better than I expect) but it would be nice to hear some experiences from other people :)
-Hopeful but a little stressed
Dear Hit Refresh and Forget,
I really appreciate you writing in. I relate a lot with what you said and the emotions you're describing. I don't know what it's like for you, but for me the first feeling elicited is an odd mix of nostalgia swirled with the acrid tang of impending loss.
If you've been reading the Board for a bit, you'll know I'm graduated, and have been for a while. While actually graduating was something of a relief, I hated no longer being a student. For years most of the friendships, networks and sense of community I had was rooted there, and in the course of just a few short weeks I watched much of that deteriorate as both I and other people I knew moved away. I still had a couple people who I remained in touch with, but the loss of community and closeness was tangible.
I did still have the Board, though, and albeit an unusual way of interacting with peers it was one of the few lines of continuity I had over the next couple years as I wandered and moved. In person, though, I'd make new friends at a new job, then the job would end, people would move, and I'd be back to square one.
Unexpectedly, about three years ago, I ran into a friend--an acquaintance, really--at a church function in my home city and I started to get to know her. Slowly, we became friends, and then many of her friends also became my friends over the next couple years. About a year ago I was at a party with a group of of them, a number of people I loved and cared about a lot.They were dancing, laughing, just chillin' and hanging out, enjoying each other's company. I stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame and watched for a moment. I felt a sense of gratitude and appreciation for them, and simultaneously the strange feeling of already looking back on a moment I knew couldn't last. Now one year later--for a variety of reasons, most of them personal, though COVID-19 certainly didn't help--while we're not on bad terms, I don't really see man of them any more. Things have changed.
This summer I started a new job digging holes in the desert, and my favorite part of it (besides finding chunks of succulent, lemony uranium ore) was the chance to meet a ton of new people, many of whom I apparently got along with really well. What ho? Amigos? Alas, at the end of the work season pretty much everyone moved away. I'm still in occasional contact with a couple of them, but to gain and to lose so quickly was pretty disappointing.
Something I'm realizing as I rather self-absorbedly navel-gaze this whole dynamic, though, is the realization I know how to make friends with people, and I genuinely enjoy the time I spend with those friends, even if that time is just a moment. And for the old friends I'm able to stay in touch with—and friends I've reconnected with, sometimes after years—I'm gaining a deeper appreciation for them, taking them for granted a little less.
I'm awful at predicting the future, and this next year is no exception. I anticipate I'll be moving, but where, when, and how many times, well... I haven't the London-foggiest notion. I'm afraid of losing the friends I do have, and afraid to lose the day-to-day of my current life. And I think that's okay. I think it's fine to grieve, recognize things I've lost, and things I'm losing. It's okay to be sad about it. It's okay to be frustrated. And it's okay, one day, to step forward and hope.
To finish, I've found comfort and meaning in this here meme over the last couple months, and I think maybe you'll appreciate it, too.
P.S. Need a pen pal? Drop a line! email@example.com
My life changed pretty drastically in 2019. I graduated BYU, left ACME (my super intense major), got my first real job, moved into my own apartment where I starting living completely by myself for the first time, got my first car, went outside the U.S for the first time, and entered into my first relationship. And since all those huge changes, I've also experienced something else for the first time: missing a previous period of my life.
I've never been a person to really look back with longing towards the past. Heck, my mom wrote in my scrapbook that unlike all my siblings I didn't even miss nursery when I became old enough to start going to primary. But I do miss college, and ACME in particular. I miss the close comradery I had with all my friends. We still keep in touch via a group chat and I have zoom yoga sessions with one of my ACME friends, but it's not nearly the same as spending 12+ hours with all the same people every day. As crazy as it sounds, I miss how busy I used to be. The pace I was going at in college was unsustainable--and I knew it--but between the periods of burnout it was... exhilarating. I miss the constant expansion of my mind. I miss the relationships I had with my professors. I also miss not having to "adult". I didn't have to worry about things like taking care of a car, managing insurance, or troubleshooting my home network when the wifi mysteriously stops working. Now when anything goes wrong in my apartment/life, it's completely up to me to fix it. I'm so grateful that I can call my parents for advice, but it's very different having to be so independent without roommates or friends there to help.
I went from constantly being surrounded by friends and in an environment where I could ask pretty much anyone around me for help or input to being completely cut off and by myself. I've been working from home since March, and I am literally the only person in my entire department with my kind of expertise. I am cut off both physically and knowledge-wise by everyone. Earlier today, I had the unsettling realization that aside from managers, I am the most senior person on my team (also the youngest, which feels kind of weird). I miss being the student who was learning as opposed to the person who's supposed to have the answers.
To live is to change, regardless if the change primarily occurs in ourselves or our circumstance. I don't think it's a bad thing to miss where we have been, but I don't think we should allow our longing for the past blind us to what's good about the present. There are so many things I miss about my life 2 years ago, but there are so many things I love about my life now. I love having the time to go for walks, listening to podcasts in the morning, and crafting a relaxing environment filled with art and suffused with scented candles.
One of my goals is to be able to savor whatever it is I'm experiencing. No matter where we are in a moment, there are going to be aspects that are both better and worse compared to other moments. When I'm feeling particularly depressed about my situation and missing past moments, I try to find a sense of wonder from the ephemeral nature of life. It helps to acknowledge that part of my appreciation for any given situation stems from it's changeability.
I feel like you're reading my mind here or something. The other night I had a major emotional breakdown about graduating and applying to grad schools and probably moving across the country where I don't know anyone. I've only ever lived outside of Utah for 2 years, and I don't even remember it because I was really little.
Change sucks. The uncertainty in these periods is deeply unsettling and uncomfortable. Knowing 'it'll all work out' doesn't make those feelings go away... and it shouldn't because these uncomfortable feelings that come with change are what help us grow as people.
I haven't completely figured out how to deal with all of it. I've been having a lot of headaches, my anxiety is higher than ever, and I sleep a lot more than I should. I self-handicap a lot, and most days, it feels like I'm failing miserably at preparing for my big life change. I know from the times that I've moved, I suck at handling change in the moment too. When I first moved out, I cried every night for 3 weeks. Gradually, things got better, but it took a year or two to really adjust.
I don't have a lot of advice. I try to be really forgiving when my coping looks different than I want it to. I've also been trying to remind myself that things being different doesn't mean they are worse. I'm trying to internalize the purpose of change, rather than focusing on how it makes me feel. Being optimistic about the new opportunities that come has provided some relief from the anxiety. I suppose, then, that's what I can offer to you. Be okay with feeling uncomfy for now, but try to have a positive outlook on what this change can mean for you.
Several years ago, in the course of a single week, I:
- Was dumped by my boyfriend (via text, after 10 months together)
- Worked a 50 hour week
- Moved (into the same apartment complex where my now ex had lived) and got new roommates
- Started living in an unfurnished apartment for the first time, prompting several nights of sleeping on the floor due to a delayed mattress delivery
- Finished an internship
- Lost the social circle of that internship, with whom I had spent nearly every day of the past six months
- Started a new job
- Was notified that my friend had died (the man I had dated before the ex who dumped me)
Some of those changes were expected, but all in all it was a week in which I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, sobbing. It felt like someone had hit a reset button on my entire life.
I'm not going to lie, it took me a long time to emotionally recover from the sheer volume of changes that occurred in such a short span of time. Thankfully, my life started to look up pretty quickly (other than my friend's passing, which still makes me very sad).
Less than a week after being dumped, I met a man I was interested in, and flirting with him helped me feel less lonely and bitter about the end of the relationship. I also made two new friends with whom I became very close very quickly, in part because they let me vent about my terrible week. The new job wasn't a perfect fit for me, but I gained skills and experience that were crucial in helping me land my current job, which I love.
So at least in my case, I can affirm that despite the drastic upheaval of that time, things did turn out better than I expected. In fact, in every time of my life where I've been scared of what the future will hold, things have been much easier than anticipated. I've made friends when I was worried about being lonely, I've found work when I was worried about employment, and I've found happiness when I was worried about being sad.