“I just graduated college and am starting a new job this summer. Even though these are good changes, I’m still feeling really nervous and on edge. Why is it so hard for me to feel excited, even though I know I should be?” - 22, M, NY
It’s normal to feel resistant to change, no matter how “good” the changes are. Our brains are wired to prefer predictability, routine, and habit. Any disruption to this — good or bad — can trigger an anxious response. Odds are, you’ve grown comfortable in your role as a college student over the last four years, and now you’re stepping into newness: new experiences, new identities, and new responsibilities. And, with anything new, there is always a level of uncertainty and risk that goes along with it; that’s where your fear response kicks in. So, first thing’s first, let go of the ideas of how you “should” feel, and show yourself some compassion for the anxiety that’s present. It’s entirely normal! You’re embarking on a major life transition, and it’s understandable that this would be nerve-wracking.
The good news is that humans are incredibly adaptable, and oftentimes, it’s the in-between time, the period of transition, the state of anticipation that’s the hardest part. One way to make this feel a little more manageable is to create some structure and stick to a routine. I recommend incorporating mindfulness and grounding exercises into your day, which can take the form of meditation, journaling, or mindful movement, such as yoga or dance therapy.
It’s also important to recognize that change is never perfect (nothing in life is!). It’s okay if you’re feeling lost, conflicted, confused, or anxious right now. Remember, those feelings won’t last forever. You might find it helpful to use affirmations for accepting change whenever these feelings arise, such as: change is hard, and I can do hard things; I can choose to believe things are working out in my favor; I’ve made it through changes before, and I can make it through again.
Feeling resistant to change doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, it means you’re human. You’re leaving your comfort zone, and although that’s hard, it’s also what ultimately leads to growth.