When I was a child I struggled with transitions, particularly changes in routine. At my elementary school, we used to have these days called “R&R days” (rest and relaxation days) and, let me tell you, they were phenomenal. Why, as adults, we don’t have designated R&R days is beyond me - we could all use a mental health day from time to time, right?! But, I digress, let’s not get away from the focus of this story - a struggle with transitions.
More often than not, these R&R days were on a Monday, leading to an enjoyable three-day weekend. Being a kid in elementary school, I had no responsibility whatsoever. Footloose and fancy free to do what I like, when I like (subject to my parents' demands and assigned chores, of course). Outside of a few minor obligations, the time was mine.
I would play with my sister constantly. Honestly, as children, you could rarely find us separated. If so, we were fighting about something inconsequential, as young siblings do. But, R&R days always meant a full day of joyous laughter and creativity. Periodic three-day weekends can turn any kid spoiled, sprouting a minor addiction to the additional playtime. I was no exception. I LOVED these mini-vacations. But - like all two-day weekends - three-day weekends eventually must end. Predictably enough, Tuesday mornings come in what seems like a flash. Adults, in their mature mental state, have the ability to look past this eventual snap back to reality and have a positive outlook - "Hey, at least I only have a four-day-week!" As a child, my mind wasn't wired this way. Tuesday may as well have been Monday. It was all the same.
This dread made me flat out bummed...I have to go to school, use my thinking brain, and worst of all…wear a school uniform for the next four days *Sigh* But, I have always been a problem-solver...this was just another issue in need of a creative solution. Upon thinking, I began to realize that I could really capitalize on this R&R day by conveniently “catching” a cold on Monday night - turning that R&R day into a full-blown relaxation retreat! Eventually, my wise mother caught on. Rather than calling me out, she engaged me in conversation, hoping to figure out why I didn’t want to go back to school. It's worth mentioning that I actually loved school, being around friends, advancing in my studies, and competing in athletics.
As a child, I didn’t have the wherewithal to conceptually come to terms with why I was being so stubborn. Stubborn enough to fake an illness for goodness sake. Yet, upon our chat, that wise mother of mine hit the nail on the head - I was simply resistant to change and transition.
This rang true then and it certainly rings true now. Over the course of my life, I claim to relish change and transition. I consciously express a “Bring It On!” attitude, appearing ready for whatever life throws my way. But, there is actually quite a large gap between my outward projection and my inner reality. As much as it pains me to say, I am a creature of absolute habit and crave routine. So much so, in fact, that I, ironically enough, now find myself enjoying weekdays more and more as they provide a much-needed daily structure. From mornings, leading into the workday, which lead into my evenings, every facet of my day is planned out without much variance.
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t handle change well as an adult, in fact I think I handle it better than most, if I do say so myself. When the time comes for change - which, I don’t have to tell you, happens all. the. time. - I make sure to bridge the aforementioned gap between projection and reality. What I show must become who I am - at least through times of variability. Without this convergence, I would cast change aside, always catching the metaphorical "sick bug", desperately holding on to life as I know it. And that is not the recipe for a fulfilled, happy existence.
A perfect quote that popped in my head while typing this is from Viktor Frankl, which reads, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one’s own way.” Change throws us for a loop. It marks the shattering of life as we once knew it. It's tough! But, you always have a choice on how you elect to perceive the challenges life brings.
When change arrives, say, "Bring It On!". Understand that - just like records are meant to be broken - routines are meant to vary. Control what you can and leave the rest to the powers that be. Even when it seems like you have it all figured out and life is good as is, welcome the inevitable transitions. Though we may not know it, they're typically just what we need.
Now back to that R&R day as adults…