We’ve all felt it.
You become fascinated by a new idea and spend hours obsessively reading everything you can about it.
You meet someone new and are blown away by them.
You find a new job opportunity and refresh your email every fifteen seconds, hoping for an offer.
Suddenly, the ground you walk on is ever-so-slightly different than it was yesterday.
Congratulations! You’re now in a period of change.
The cement is wet. You’re able to look around with fresh eyes and see what’s working – and what isn’t – about your life.
It’s an exciting time. But also, and more honestly, it kind of sucks.
I’ve been through several of these periods in my life. I remember them being frustrating and tedious at the time (and I have the journal receipts to prove it), but I almost always look back on them fondly.
Something has always held me back from enjoying the experience of change as it’s happening.
I’m in a period of wet cement right now, so I’m trying to appreciate it in real-time.
This is all highly speculative, but here’s my shot at how to do it.
Redirect your frustration
One of the things I always deal with when I’m starting something new or making changes in my life is that change doesn’t happen quickly enough.
Once I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go—no time to waste.
But the rest of the world doesn’t give a shit whether I’m ready for things to change or not. Relationships take time to build, hiring processes take time to progress, and habits take time to form.
You could stew about these petty frustrations, or you could direct them elsewhere.
For example, I can’t think of anything that’s better running fuel than helplessly waiting for a text back from a crush or counting down the hours to a job offer.
Your apartment is probably dirty. What if you used the time you would be refreshing your inbox or compulsively checking your texts to clean it?
In times of change, I’m a ball of nervous energy. Why not redirect it and put that energy somewhere productive?
Let your excitement run free (within reason)
One of the annoying ways I make change worse for myself is that I don’t let myself get excited about it.
But new things are great! They’re fun! I’m a pretty excitable person, and feeling the possibilities laid out in front of me is a very positive experience.
Why not give yourself some space to fully feel what’s going on around you? You won’t get to retroactively appreciate it, so you should probably start now.
None of this is to say you should be ordering bottles of champagne before you get the job offer or browsing engagement rings after the third date. But take a few moments to allow yourself to fully feel how fucking cool it is that a good thing is (potentially) happening and how absurdly good it would feel if it did happen.
Yes, you’re setting yourself up for the potential of disappointment, but in my experience, the best feelings are in anticipation of the thing rather than the thing itself. I’d say the upside is worth the potential downside here.
Turn your boredom into creativity.
This is technically another re-channeling, but I’m all for re-channeling, so who cares?
When you’re going through change, one part of your life is on fire with exciting possibilities. It’s bright, shiny, magnetic.
That makes the rest of your life seem kind of boring by comparison.
So while you’re waiting for something to happen in the exciting area, you might find that the rest of your time feels dull or useless.
In the month leading up to my move to California, I spent more time binge-watching TV than I care to admit. I tend to default to comforting shows when things are uncomfortable around me, ignoring the emotional storm raging elsewhere.
But not this time! Instead, I can spend hours creating things (like this article, very meta of me). I can work on household projects that will improve my quality of life. I can try new things with abandon.
Instead of tucking in for a dozen episodes of The Office (each of which you’ve seen six times), you’d be better served by making things.
Resist the urge to Click yourself
There’s a fair amount of complaining that goes on during periods of change. Most of it suggests we Just Want This Shit to Be Over Already:
- “I’m so tired! I just want to sit down and do nothing for a week.”
- “I’m all over the place lately – I just want to hear back about this job already.”
- “I’m so antsy about this move. I just want to skip to the part where I’m settled in.”
We all say things like that. But let me tell you: there’s a reason people look back fondly on times of change.
They’re exciting! New things are cool, and the experience of those (often uncomfortable) new things is how we grow.
You may be feeling the suckage now, but I assure you that you don’t want to skip past this part because it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
All that frustration, boredom, nervousness, and excitement – that’s the feeling of being alive. We’re a bunch of animals running around on a tiny rock in the middle of fucking nowhere, but we’re here.
You and I are experiencing a unique moment in time – things have never been quite like this before and will never be quite like this again.
In the movie Click, Adam Sandler’s character doesn’t recognize this. He uses his newfound ability to fast forward as a cheat code to skip through the unpleasant moments.
Don’t be Adam Sandler. Don’t wish to skip the tough parts.
They’re some of the most beautiful ones there are.