There is one word that can describe my experience over the last month: adaptability.
Since mid-April, I have spent time in Paris (France), Rochester (Michigan), Traverse City (Michigan), Bloomfield Hills (Michigan), Ann Arbor (Michigan), Cleveland (Ohio), Wytheville (Virginia), Columbia (South Carolina), Charleston (South Carolina), Asheville (North Carolina), and now Greenville (South Carolina). In each location I have stayed with different family or friends, in settings ranging from a homestay apartment in Paris to student housing in Greenville to a luxury hotel in Asheville. My daily life has transitioned from being a laid back French student, to vacation mode with family in the states, to now working in corporate life. To say I have experienced change is an understatement. I have had to transition and adapt in ways that some people never experience in an entire lifetime. At its face, it seems overwhelming, but I remind myself that I am going through the steps I signed up for as an International MBA student. I view it as part of my adventure to grow personally and professionally. Through each of these changes over the past month, and lots of travel time in between, I have had time to reflect about what it takes to be adaptable and to be happy while you are facing change. I wanted to share some of my recent reflections with my favorite inspirNational readers.
What have a I learned about adaptability?
Take care of your health, first. Change naturally stresses the body, so it is critical for us to get enough sleep, to eat healthy foods, and to exercise. Emphasizing health is more important in times of change since our stressed bodies are more prone to illness. Sleep has been my biggest culprit. I have noticed that I am waking up earlier, so I am working on going to bed earlier to ensure that I get my nightly 8 hours of sleep.
Spend time in nature. Go for a hike, ride your bike in your neighborhood, or have an outdoor picnic. Fresh air, sunshine, and natural sounds help calm us, especially when we are feeling anxious about the changes we are facing. I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit very nature-focused cities, including Traverse City, Asheville, and Greenville, which have enabled me to find inner peace while transitioning. Nature has reminded me that with change there is consistency, from day to night, and from season to season.
Slow down: pause and pamper. Remember that you do not need to be in a rush. Life takes time, decisions take time, transitions take time. The right answers do not always come to us immediately and sometimes we have to slow down to be able to notice the right answers and the right path for our lives. This is one of the hardest concepts for me to understand because I like to finish what I have started, figure out the solution to a problem, achieve one goal, and move on to the next goal as quickly as possible. I am learning to slow down, which is helping change become more comfortable for me. Also, while you take a pause, remember to reward yourself for all the moving and transitioning you are experiencing. Relax with a massage, get a manicure, or go for a haircut. I had a company offsite this week that included a massage, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I also took a bath, which helped me pause, relax, and enjoy the warm water and bubbles. How often do we sit for a bath rather than a rushed shower? The pausing and pampering helps motivate us to keep going and have faith that stability will come.
Be yourself. While we are adapting, it is important to be open to new ideas and opportunities, but we also should not lose a sense of who we are. Stand up for who you are, your religious and political beliefs, your interests, and that little quirks that make you, “you.” Think about your childhood self, which is likely a realistic version of who you are and who you want to be, before societal expectations were enforced upon you. I saw a quote at an art gallery yesterday in Asheville that really stuck with me: “Discipline is never forgetting what you want.” Never forgetting what you want means you are never forgetting who you are and the little inner voice that encourages you everyday. I am taking this quote to heart and going to remember this in my daily life.
Find connections to what you love: your local church, your favorite comfort foods, your favorite music, your favorite sports, etc. By connecting with the new community where we live, we feel more comfortable with the changes we are facing. I have enjoyed listening to my favorite playlists everyday while moving and have made a point to enjoy some of my comfort foods: peanut butter, fresh berries, French toast, orange juice, ice cream, and more. I am in the process of finding a Catholic church for the summer that will keep me centered in my faith . I am also joining a yoga studio and local outdoor sports leagues, which have been my favorite ways to stay fit and meet new people as I have moved over the years. On the note of connection, also stay connected with loved ones on social media – you will feel less far way from them and will help make your next conversation at home feel like you just saw each other.
Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know when you will cross paths again, especially in new places where you move. I have had the exciting opportunity to get in touch with one of my high school cheerleading teammates who I have not seen since high school, who is also in Greenville now. It is so comforting to have a Rochester friend in the same place as me now. I experienced the same thing in Cleveland when I realized that one of my study abroad friends from Spain also lived in Cleveland, and she became one of my best friends. There truly are six degrees of separation, and we will run into those we meet throughout different phases in our lives. Kindness has always been one of my most important values, and its significance has only been enhanced as I have moved and met (or remet) friends!
I am continually learning and growing in this adaptation process, and am excited to have a summer where I can learn about corporate life and a new city in South Carolina before returning to graduate school in the fall. The most comforting part of adaptation is that we are all in life together and experiencing changes at different points in life. I hope that these ideas help you as you face changes now or in the future!