May has been a weird month. Some of the best days in the past almost-two years have been housed on this calendar page, but also, some of the worst. I have felt so crazy! Typically, I describe myself as a steady person. I think my friends and family would say the same. I’m not one for wild emotional roller coaster rides–it’s not like me to have super high highs and super low lows. If Riley’s reading this, he’s laughing. It’s been a wild ride this May!
It’s a strange thing not feeling like yourself. Have you ever been there, where life is an out-of-body experience and you feel like you’re watching it play out from another dimension? That’s kind of where I am now. So many days lately I’ve thought who the heck is this girl? What is happening? Where are these crazy emotions coming from?
On Saturday (which was one of the good, good days), it came to me. This graph popped into my head while I was lounging on the couch chatting with Riley. I quickly drew it on a piece of paper to solidify my thoughts. My pen-and-paper version was pretty rough, so I moved my thoughts to a digital graph. Here it is:
This is almost exactly what my adjustment and transition to new places has looked like each time. When I moved away for college. When I studied abroad in Spain. When I moved to Austin. And now. The length of time for adjustment has wildly varied; in college it took a few weeks, in Austin it took a few months, and now it’s taking a few years. But this has been my experience time and time again. Let me explain…
When I first arrive in a new place, I’m extremely happy. Everything is new and fresh and wonderful. There are a thousand new things to photograph and a thousand new memories to make. I feel excited and adventurous and very hopeful. This is like the honeymoon period of adjustment.
Then, for me, the honeymoon fades and I struggle. The newness and possibilities have worn off and life is hard, hard, hard. There have been times in the past when this phase has been lighter than others–like in college or when I moved to Austin. Both times, I felt a little fearful and overwhelmed, but I wasn’t level 10 miserable. As many of you know, I was for sure level 10 miserable through this past move. Which takes me to where I am now…
Now, I’m in the up and down phase. This is the part of adjustment where there are good great wonderful days and terrible horrible awful days. A week will pass that was lovely and magnificent; the following week will be exhausting and difficult. A wild roller coaster ride of emotions. This is why I’m feeling so out-of-my-mind and unsteady lately; this is where I am. I definitely feel a little crazy, but I’m ever-hopeful because I know what the next stage looks like.
Then, finally, the last stage. This is where I slowly grow to feel settled, adjusted, content, and happy in my new place. The steepness of the upward curve greatly varies. In college and in Austin, it was on a quick upswing; this process didn’t take long. In Spain, it took some time as I moved past the culture shock and fell in love with the city I was living in. I’m not to this phase yet now, but I know I’ll get there. My high days now remind me that there will be a time when I do feel settled and content day after day. Can’t wait.
There’s my graph analyzing the adjustment to a new place over time. (Never posted anything quite like this!) Keeping this in mind over the past few days has helped me greatly; it reminds me that adjustment is a journey and that’s okay. I’ll get to that final stage soon.
// Can you relate to this? What does your adjustment to a new place look like?
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