Transition Roller Coaster

PC: “Roller Coaster Ride” by Angie via Canva.com

Change. Unknowns. Transition.

This seems to be the theme of 2020 for me. Our oldest graduated from high school, decided on a university, and will get on an airplane in less than five days. To be honest those three words bring out emotions, but with this pandemic can I demonstrate by writing “EMOTIONS!”? Seriously, I think sending off your first is suppose to be a roller coaster of emotions, and having a TCK and all that entangles makes those drops a little more steep, but throw in a pandemic and it’s like a sudden double loop with a fear that the safety harness is faulty. This is coming from someone who doesn’t like roller coasters. For those of you who do, well, come up with your own analogy. But, to break it down, this year has brought out these emotions:

Fear. Excitement. Anxiety. Stress. Joy. Regret. Doubt. Stress.

And here’s the thing I’ve noticed this week. Especially this week. I’m not the only one going through these emotions. Of course my son is going through some of this, but my husband and daughters are as well. And as the time of departure nears, the emotions heightened.

And get this – we all respond to these emotions DIFFERENTLY! Maybe you already knew this and I think I did, too. But, this week with everyone just a little more on edge I’ve really noticed it.

So, what to do?

I’m not sure I have a complete answer, but here are a few things I have tried to do to help.

  1. Be aware. Be aware of your own feelings and responses to those feelings. Be aware that others may be acting out of response to anxiety or deep sadness or even fear.
  2. Choose Grace. Grace is a Christian word that basically means gift. Offer the gift of understanding when a young child throws a tantrum at the table. Give grace to your spouse when you find them “hiding” in a book, TV series, or game. Giving grace sometimes means forgiving before it’s been asked for. Don’t forget to give yourself grace. It’s easy to be hard on yourself, but you need grace, too.
  3. Communicate. When you are aware of your own actions and responses you can communicate with your family how you are feeling. You can ask for forgiveness when you’ve spoken in anger because of stress. You can ask how they are doing with this upcoming change. You can talk with them about their own responses/actions. Remember though, that HOW you communicate is key – go back to #2 for guidance.

This is not something that comes naturally for me, so please don’t read this and think, “Wow, she’s got it all together.”

Uh, no, I fail multiple times a day with this. I sometimes I wish we could just rush through this hard part of transition – but I don’t want to miss it. So, I will hold on to that safety harness and force my eyes to stay open through all the dips, the dives and the loops that this roller coaster brings.

Have anything else to add to this list? Please share in the comments.

Making Change

Change

photo by spcbrass via flickr

I was standing in the check-out lane and opened my wallet to see that I had about two handfuls of change. I am headed back overseas in a few weeks, so I want start getting rid of the excess change. As the cashier began to ring up my items I noticed that the there were a few people standing in line behind me waiting patiently.

My heartbeat picked up.

My hands started sweating.

My eyes darted into the wallet trying to make out what kind of change I had, so I could quickly pull out what I would need.

A few seconds later, the cashier told me how much I needed. What? I didn’t hear him. I frantically looked at the register to get a read and asked again for the price. He told me.

I handed the bills and began to dig for the coins I needed. My fingers were not working. The coins kept slipping from them. Finally, what seemed like five minutes, I got the exact change and handed it to him. I know I heard a sigh from the person behind me.

The cashier handed me the receipt. I apologized and quickly made my exit.

I’m in the country I grew up in, yet counting change causes me to stress. What in the world? Here is what I think it is…

1. The money is foreign. As expats, we live outside the country for at least 11 months or longer ~for me it’s been 2.5 years. The money has become foreign. We are used to our RMB, Yen, Euro, or Pounds and have forgotten what “home” country money feels like. If you’re a TCK, it may all feel foreign and familiar at the same time…

2. Identity problems. I’ve lived in Asia for over a decade and there is so much grace when I don’t get it right because I don’t look Asian. As for going to Germany, I look the same, but as soon as I open my mouth the people there understand and have shown me grace. Being in the US, I look and sound “American”, so they are so confused that I can’t count change, don’t understand the debit card scan, or whatever the “new-to-me” procedure is in public places. If you’re a TCK, is this how you feel all the time?

So, how to beat this? I guess I could “play” with the money before I get back to just get a feel for it. Instead, I just keep shopping and using cash OR I skip the cash part and use the debit card. As for the identity problem, I’ve thought about putting on an accent at the checkout, but mine is terrible and I’d probably start laughing at myself and blow it. So, instead I just take a deep breath and remember that it’s okay and normal ~ my friends all have the same problem and we will sit with our tea/coffee at the end of the summer laughing about the “trauma at the grocery stores” and how we “survived the cereal aisle”.Β 

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