Monday, May 16, 2011

Maria Made Me Do It

Last week, I saw a Youtube video of Maria Shriver asking people about their own experiences on transitions.  The video was first released around the end of March, I think, and obviously by that time, she would’ve been already aware of her own major transition, her separation from her husband.  In her vlog, she asked people who have gone through any kind of transition (work, relationship status, financial, etc.) what three things they know now (after the transition) they wished they had known prior to the transition.  This was a challenge for me, if only to force myself to think of what I’ve learnt from my own transition (or if indeed I’ve learnt anything at all).  

As most of you know by now (assuming you either know me personally or have at least read through the “About Me” section of this page), the most challenging transition I’ve gone through so far is my migration to the United States from the Philippines.  And it wasn’t just a simple, ‘no-loose-ends’ kind of migration because it was all unexpected and due to marriage (which makes it a double transition in one!).  None of it was expected nor planned so you can imagine the shock every molecule in my being had to experience.  As a matter of fact, until now, even after 7 years, some ‘aftershocks’ still shake me every now and then.

Anyway, after thinking long and hard about my three core lessons, here they are ready and ripe for sharing.  I hope you're reading this, Maria...

(1) Remember that you chose this.  It was actually one of my best friends that pointed this out to me a few years ago.  He noticed that when I spoke of my experience, I tended to say, ‘I was uprooted’, as if to free myself of accountability.  I never thought of it that way until he highlighted that I spoke as if I never wanted any of it to happen.  That was such a revelation to me because truthfully, even though it feels at times that you were just thrust into this situation and things just happened to you, you need to remind yourself of your accountability in the situation, of the choices you made, your role in shaping this situation. It could be painful to think of it this way but it is also empowering. When situations get bad or at the very least go in the way we never expected or planned for, it is always so tempting to victimize ourselves, release ourselves of any responsibility.  But now I know that for most things in our lives, we are ‘agents’, actors, constantly choosing albeit less consciously at times.  Nonetheless, we choose.  If you were able to choose before, you can always choose again.  Who knows where that can lead you?


(2) You need to be clear about who you really are. In a major transition (or maybe any life transition for that matter), expect that a shedding of identities will occur. Certain statuses would have to be given up, surrendered, peeled off of you INEVITABLY. There will always be a temptation to hold on to these things and even force them upon others so that they will continue to recognize us as bearers of those old statuses.  In my case, I wanted to hold on to my status as a university professor, an academic or an intellectual for the longest time. I took pride in holding that status.  But it no longer made sense considering I was no longer doing any of my previous roles as an academic.  The dissonance occurred when I found myself still wanting others to define me according to my previous status/es but of course no one would.  It was becoming painful as I knew it was not possible, nor justified.  For a time, I had an attitude of "don't-you-know-who-I-am/was", until I realized that it simply did not matter.  If something were true, it cannot be hidden even in the absence of declarations.  It will just be.  It just is.  My sense of identity, as long as it is clear to me, will naturally seep out of every pore, every breath.  And you have to be clear that your identity, who you truly are, is more than just a status, title or label.  As long as I'm clear about who I am, no formal title, label or outward recognition by others will ever be as important as my sense of peace in claiming what is truly ME.                  

(3)  As odd as this sounds, to ease your transition, you have to aim for another transition.  If you think about it, this is quite basic isn't it?  Part of the basic laws of matter states that no two things can occupy the same space at the same time.  'Matter' and 'Energy' are interchangeable.  When you have troubles /problems, that is energy and you expend energy dealing with them or thinking about them.  So if you're in a transition that seems to make your life a bit less than ideal, one way of coping is to expend energy somewhere else.  Try to 'replace' the unpleasant transition with a more pleasant one, something you can plan for and be excited about; something you can have more control over.  Set some goals.  Engage in new projects, whether it's something as trivial as putting together a scrap book for the past year, or something as major as looking for a new job.  Or you can shoot for something in the middle, perhaps, say, establish a blog?        

Transitions are anything but easy.  They are, after all, about changes, about introducing something new into our lives and this goes against our natural tendency to seek the familiar.  In the end, no matter what coping mechanisms we may find in dealing with transitions, the one important thing is to do everything at your own pace.  You must respect the process.  Just relax and don’t dread the steps that you’d need to take to move forward.  As my friend reminded me from long ago, each step only takes you closer to the destination.      




24 comments:

  1. Great tips and perhaps Maria will take note. My fav is the first you have listed here - which sadly is a suprise to most people. Hope your doing great

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  2. believe also that in every transition you undergo, you need to be a "hardcore optimist"

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  3. Great thoughts here. I remember a boss sharing #1 with me at one point in my life. "You chose this." As you said, those 3 simple words are quite powerful. Thanks for following me at Doorkeeper. I'm following your blog and will be back to read more. Blessings!

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  4. Hi Maria, I am Jeanne from A Country Life with JaaBee and I joined you over at Makobi's Monday blog hop. come join me if you will
    http://acountrylifewithjaabee.blogspot.com

    I am a sewer, quilter, crafter, retired nurse, a pay it forward person and love love people, all kinds and sorts of people. But I love my hubby, kids, grandkids and Maverick the most first. Ciao

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  5. This is a really great post! Thanks for sharing...and your right it is my choice. I need to remember that as I recently quite my job without a new one so I could focus on my family while I looked. It's only day one and I'm upset no one has called!

    I'm a new follower from Mingle Monday. http://www.grandmasguidetolife.blogspot.com

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  6. This is a very helpful post for me as I am in a major transformation now. My career is changing and so much that goes with that.
    I hope you are doing better...
    I am a new visitor and follower via Monday Hop..

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  7. My parents immigrated as well and I work with many students who move here in high school - some by themselves. I have so much respect for my fellow Asians who came from abroad - it's not easy!

    Where in the south are you moving? I'm going to post about this soon - I must be honest, there are certain parts of the south that are uncomfortable for Asians to be in. But you might already be used to being the only Asian in your neighborhood? (This is why I choose to live only in L.A. or NYC.)

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  8. Life is hard but also has its good points. The important thing is to find yourself and be free to be.

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  9. 5.16.11 11:19 via FB:

    Good point, joy. Been in transition too and i guess i'm not even done yet but i am patiently waiting...

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  10. 5.16.11 14:02 via FB

    sa dami ng transisitons sa buhay ko parang i dont have to aim for another one..believe it or not they just happen right infront of me...ayan ginawa ko na namang victim ang sarili ko hahahaha

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  11. Very well said, Joy! I was able to relate to thIs, especially on #2 and #3! As long as we know who we are, the title, the status, the level of education we finished, don't really matter! What is important is the kind of person we are! If we are mothers then we should become the best examples to our children, loving them unconditionally; if we are career oriented, then we should do our jobs properly and with excellence; if we are wives, then we should be the supportive and submissive, loving wives to our husbands, etc! And you are right in saying that when we had a bad experience, or a negative transition, then we should do something to make that negative become positive! It is the attitude that we have within ourselves! That includes our faith in God, our hope, and our trust in ourselves! Dont let the bad transitions in our lives pull us down! Most of the time, people neglect to look back on the effects these have created on them! I am grateful for all my bad experiences....I learned so much from them and I am a STRONGER and BRAVER woman now, not to forget, a HAPPIER WOMAN!

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  12. ‎1. No amount of planning and preparation will ever make me 100% ready for what life has in store for me.
    2. The Love for a child is so powerful that everything else pales in comparison.

    ‎...and 3.Although sometimes I feel like a victim of circumstance, I am where I am and I am doing what I do because of certain decisions I made....so in essence, I am (partly) responsible for my present situation.

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  13. What a great post! I can totally relate to it: my move to the UK wasn't as simple as I thought. That said, I think that it saved my from self pity and I wouldn't have it any other way...I am so much happier now, because I discovered things about me that I didn't know (e.g. I can speak English, set up a business...). I finally became more flexible, and less judgemental. It was a tough ride, but well worth it...

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  14. I'm a new follower. Come follow me?

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  15. Well said!! I think looking forward to something or setting a goal is something that should be done whether you are in transition or not. It should be a way of life. Thanks for the follow. I'm following you back.
    Debbie from nofiltermom.blogspot.com

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  16. hello newest follower from the hop look forward to reading more great posts
    http://everydayproductsandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Very well said, Joy! I was able to relate to thIs, especially on #2 and #3! As long as we know who we are, the title, the status, the level of education we finished, don't really matter! What is important is the kind of person we are! If we are mothers then we should become the best examples to our children, loving them unconditionally; if we are career oriented, then we should do our jobs properly and with excellence; if we are wives, then we should be the supportive and submissive, loving wives to our husbands, etc! And you are right in saying that when we had a bad experience, or a negative transition, then we should do something to make that negative become positive! It is the attitude that we have within ourselves! That includes our faith in God, our hope, and our trust in ourselves! Dont let the bad transitions in our lives pull us down! Most of the time, people neglect to look back on the effects these have created on them! I am grateful for all my bad experiences....I learned so much from them and I am a STRONGER and BRAVER woman now, not to forget, a HAPPIER WOMAN!

    ReplyDelete
  18. 5.16.11 11:19 via FB:

    Good point, joy. Been in transition too and i guess i'm not even done yet but i am patiently waiting...

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a great post! I can totally relate to it: my move to the UK wasn't as simple as I thought. That said, I think that it saved my from self pity and I wouldn't have it any other way...I am so much happier now, because I discovered things about me that I didn't know (e.g. I can speak English, set up a business...). I finally became more flexible, and less judgemental. It was a tough ride, but well worth it...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Maria, I am Jeanne from A Country Life with JaaBee and I joined you over at Makobi's Monday blog hop. come join me if you will
    http://acountrylifewithjaabee.blogspot.com

    I am a sewer, quilter, crafter, retired nurse, a pay it forward person and love love people, all kinds and sorts of people. But I love my hubby, kids, grandkids and Maverick the most first. Ciao

    ReplyDelete
  21. believe also that in every transition you undergo, you need to be a "hardcore optimist"

    ReplyDelete
  22. hello newest follower from the hop look forward to reading more great posts
    http://everydayproductsandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  23. hello newest follower from the hop look forward to reading more great posts
    http://everydayproductsandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  24. hello newest follower from the hop look forward to reading more great posts
    http://everydayproductsandmore.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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