This month's Scientiae Carnival is on transitions. I'm all about transitions. It is hard for me to find a solid chunk of my life where I wasn't transitioning in some way or another. I live transitions and I study transitions.
Transitions are times of vulnerability and stress but are also windows of opportunity for positive change. In the behavioral sciences we like to study people as they transition and, for those of us who are applied researchers, to intervene.
Many transitions occur at specific measurable points in a person's lifetime, puberty and menopause being prime examples. Some transitions we plan for--obtaining a doctorate--and others can catch us by surprise, such as divorce. Transitioning in sync with your cohort is a vastly different experience than a solo transition.
All are fascinating to me.
As my regular readers are aware, my family is in the middle of a transition. Boy leaves for college in less than a month and is actively trying on new identities before he goes. Once he is there he'll be with a large group of people who are all making the same transition together. For me and b, our role as parents will definitely undergo a transition. While we have friends and family members who have already faced this particular transition, there is no one in our lives who will be going through it with us.
Transitions affect the people around you and can cause a ripple effect. Although the three of us will have very different perspectives on this transition--which we will experience as individuals--we will end up transformed as a family.
Transitions affect other areas of your life. How I work now, as a mother of a semi-independent son, is vastly different than how I worked as a mother of a young child. I suspect more changes will occur in how I work (and possibly what I work on) once the nest is actually empty.
My research agenda has already gone through a tremendous transition in the past several years. My previous work was with large-scale behavioral experiments in real world settings. All my data were numerical. I proved things. Now, although I'm still in real world settings, I work on a much smaller scale. Experimentation is an element of my work but not the prime focus. My data is mostly textual but occasionally sprinkled with numbers. Now I strive to understand things.
I suppose what fascinates me most of all is that in spite of the numerous, complex, and often overlapping transitions we make throughout our lifetime, there is so much consistency in who we are. The more I change the more I become the person I was. Perhaps it is our passions that keep us grounded. I may transition in and out of roles, experiences and identities but my passion for my family, for my research, for living both a physical life and a life of the mind, centers me in the here and now.