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What you Learn in the Thick of Transition

I’ve always looked forward to becoming an adult.

At age 5, I was going to be a teacher — “just like Ms. Palmer,” my kindergarten assistant — when I grew up.

Throughout middle school, I decided I was going to become the first female head coach in the NBA.

In high school, when I grew up, I was going to live as far away from home as possible.

As a college freshman, though, I decided I no longer wanted to grow up.

The transition to independence (a.k.a. freshman year) was rough. I was a stranger in my dorm and when I went home, I cried every time I left to go back to school. I felt like I didn’t have a place to call home. Childhood Ashley’s expectations of adulthood came crashing down and she wanted to go back to age 5 when she dreamed of being a teacher.

Clearly that wasn’t possible.

It was the biggest transition of my life, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just felt lost. It wasn’t until I reflected on my first year that I realized that this was MY transition and I was the only one that was going to determine its outcome.

Now, as a junior, on the cusp of adulthood, I approach every transition with a little more care than 2016 Ashley Baich. While I haven’t used this transition to become a successful entrepreneur like Hannah Kay Herdlingerand Dina Carey, there is still some experience I think is worth sharing as BNW focuses on transitions this month.

I used to have a negative connotation attached to the word transition. It made me think of change, being uncomfortable, and disappointment. Now, though, I not only have a new connotation attached to the word transition but those experiences that once made me cringe like nails on a chalkboard, too.

Change. This is where I made the biggest reflection after year one at UNC. I used to hate the thought of change. Change was scary, uncomfortable, foreign and mean. Change used to take everything that made me comfortable, throw it out the window and replace it with new uncertainty. Then, I realized I was still in control. While I couldn’t control what was going on around me, I could control how I reacted to it. This realization turned change from an enemy to a newfound friend filled with endless opportunities. I learned that if I ever wanted to grow and succeed, I was going to have to be OK with change and the ways it made me feel, including uncomfortable….

Uncomfortable. I think we can all agree that being uncomfortable isn’t the going trend. Personally, I used to avoid it at all costs. Recently though, I have realized that the times I have been the most uncomfortable have been the times that I have been the most successful and happy in the end. Being uncomfortable is the key to growing and thriving. Imagine where you would be in life if you never pursued anything that could possibly make you uncomfortable. For me, I would still be living in my parent’s house repeating my senior year of high school for the fourth time. And, if that were the case, I would easily be filled with disappointment.

Disappointment. I used to be disappointed a lot. I always had a vision in my head of how something was going to go and it never ended up going that way. Transitioning to being a grownup was no exception. The vision I had for my college years has been unrealistic to say the least. Being someone who previously lived her life excited for the future, I have found a new niche excited to live in the moment. I can’t imagine still living my life like Freshman Ashley — filled with the disappointments of college not being what I had envisioned. Freshman Ashley would not be in a sorority, working two prestigious internships, counting down the days to go back to school or living my best life.

The value of a transition runs much deeper than the transition itself. You can learn life lessons that will stick with you forever, and it can truly change who you are as a person and how you live your life Every. Single. Day.

As a kid, my dad loved to remind me of his favorite quote by Walter D. Wintle: “Winning doesn’t always go to the strongest man, but the man who thinks he can.” Of course, at the time, I only corrected him for saying man instead of woman, but now, I live by that motto and go into every situation, every part of this monstrous transition, knowing that I can.


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