When we moved to Southern Illinois, we had a plan to be there for 2-3 years. Our checklist included getting connected to the community through a church, having our first child (in one of those Octobers), doing good work and moving on to the next job in another location. We were mostly successful. We found a church focused on serving the community. We had our first child in December instead of October. We failed at leaving, because we were successful at making Southern Illinois home. We were active on campus and in the community where we had our first house and our second daughter.
And with plans to stay for a good long while, the unanticipated happened. My family discussed what it would cost us personally to leave and what we’d be aspiring to grab hold of if we let go all of we had. Our finances were a practical consideration, but the highest cost was leaving a home we had made; our local family we had built with care as our biological families weren’t nearby; and a great deal of cultural capital we had made at the institution and in the surrounding communities.
When you’ve made a place home, there won’t ever be a good time to leave.
Ultimately, we decide to pursue what may be best for our family, knowing that our current situation would likely worsen with time. The people who knew both of our daughters since birth didn’t all understand. They weren’t happy. There was confusion. Even we had moments of second-guessing.
But that was all a good indication we did it right. People shouldn’t be happy to see you go! There should be tears. It should be hard.
If you’ve made your home once, you can make it again.
During the second week of my new role, I had lunch with a new colleague who seemingly knows every single person on campus. They’ve been at the institution for seven years, the same length of time we were in Southern Illinois. It felt like looking up from the base of a mountain you could swear you had just finished climbing.
So I smiled, introduced myself, and made a joke. I kept repeating the names of who I met in my head, hoping to only need introduced to them one or two more times.
There will always be surprises. They won’t always be good.
Transitioning to a new place is tiring. I’m sure we won’t remember much of these few months. This last week I found myself in the ER with my supervisor by my side. Health insurance hadn’t yet been processed; there is no primary physician yet. The most undivided time I’ve had with my supervisor is with me wearing a hospital gown.
But for all of the “what the….” moments, there’s a good amount of fun in being new. Every restaurant is a new experience, each church we visit may hold our future friends, and we’re excited to see what is in store.
There are ways to bring home with you.
Our entire family had a voice during the transition. Our children helped picked which toys and books were coming to our temporary home. We keep as close to our old routines we can. We stay in contact with our Southern Illinois homemade family. A few of my favorite old office toys are being played with by new colleagues.
Be patient with yourself.
If you’re preparing to transition into a new role, the long journey has already started. There is much to do. Give yourself, your family and friends, and your colleagues a break. You won’t have everything you need, you’ll underestimate some costs and overestimate your time (may I suggest trying to flip those in your preparations?).
Rely on the home you’ve already built as you move forward in building a new one. Consider those posting in this series part of that community.
Good luck. And welcome home (again).