In her poignant books, “Kitchen Table Wisdom” and “My Grandfather’s Blessings”, Rachel Naomi Remen, MD writes about her personal and professional experiences with grief and loss and the truths revealed to her through those experiences: 1) every ending is followed by a new beginning and 2) nothing new can begin without something first ending. As simple as those ideas are, they have helped me enormously whenever I’ve faced change and transition in my life, such as leaving one job to pursue another or ending a relationship to begin whatever comes next. In most cases, I feel some hope and optimism about change, but all transition evokes some initial discomfort and fear.
That discomfort and fear will be easily felt here at Arcadia University tomorrow during Move-In Day. It is typically a day of great anticipation for students and families; it symbolizes the end of one life and the beginning of another. With that ending and new beginning will come some pleasurable feelings and some uncomfortable feelings. As a counselor, I will encourage students to be aware of their emotions and practice tolerating the discomfort of loneliness, anxiety, confusion, or sadness. I’ll help students develop healthy ways to self-soothe when really distressed and create their own self-care routine. And I will, as always in my work, reflect upon major changes in my life and how I’ve handled them (sometimes gracefully and sometimes less so).
Last night, my partner and I reflected on our perfectionist tendencies and marveled that we’ve been able to let go of labeling ourselves as a “failure” if we make a mistake. We are both better able to be gentle with ourselves, to assess a situation and say, “Well, that didn’t work” and try something new. It has helped both of us to realize that the significant endings in our lives have always been closely followed by new beginnings in which doors of opportunity were opened.
So, peace to all of you who are experiencing an ending: May you be blessed to recognize the new beginning in front of you.
Peace, joy, and health,