I want to write about living in the in-between. You know that moment when you’re waiting for something to happen. I am assuming we have all been there at some point in our lives; that period before what you think you want to happen next in your life actually materialises. It might be the period before finding a job, or before entering a new life stage that you desire (marriage, relationship), and one of the worst- the period of waiting for healing to come after going through a painful experience (grief, heartbreak, failure or loss).
Others have called it the “waiting stage” and I want to explore the complex thoughts and feelings that come up during this stage. I am calling it the “in-between” because you get the sense that you are in limbo; waiting for something to happen. In my experience there has been some anxiety, apprehension, fear of the unknown (thinking for example, what if it doesn’t work out as I wish?). There are a lot of what ifs and the mind becomes preoccupied with the future because that is where the focus is. You want to get to some future desired point and your mind will be going through all the possibilities and challenges. In my case, I used to have more worst case scenarios than the opposite. My mind usually works in that way and I have been trying to switch this into more optimistic thoughts.
The in-between stage does not have to be a terrible phase. Think of being single while you wait for your life partner. This can either be a joyous or terrible moment, depending on your perspective. It’s the difference between living in the moment and constantly obsessing over the future you cannot see. It is making the choice to live one day at a time and also finding the lessons in each stage.
From experience, living in the in-between can be utilised as a learning moment. The period between finishing a degree and securing a job last year became the time when I put my heart and soul into helping postgraduate students. I shared my own experiences and that in itself gave me a sense of being alive and useful and I was able to snap out of the mini-depression that came after I finished studying. I then went through a period of deciding to whether to leave or stay in Hong Kong after I completed my studies. I lived in this stage for about six months and a lot of things were happening that were guiding me towards my decision- but I had to look deeply at each situation in order to know what it was telling me. In the end I chose to leave and that’s when I stepped into a new stage of my life. So, sometimes, the change is just a decision away. We often stay in the in-between because we have not made a decision; in other words indecisiveness keeps us in a state of limbo. For instance one can decide to volunteer while they wait for a full-time job and through that, they might meet someone who leads them to their next job.
Sometimes we are stuck in the in-between because of things completely out of our control, for example dealing with the loss of a loved one. This is the most challenging because we will have to heal and the process might take longer than we desire, but we do have to heal. I have written about loss HERE and about healing from past relational pain in this post Heal baby!. You may want to check them out if you missed them.
Right now we are all in the in-between, waiting for the return to normal after COVID-19. Some people have said that this is the new normal, which means we might have to adapt and shift our lives to live in these times. That way we can move from waiting for COVID-19 to “go away” to co-existing with it as what happened with the HIV pandemic. This is still up for debate and I don’t know where I stand on the matter just yet. Either way, we are living in the in-between of not knowing what’s on the other side of COVID-19, what will our economies look like? What will be the state of our education systems? Will the nature of our interactions change forever? It remains to be seen, but we are living in it. I hope we are paying attention to this stage in the hopes that we will live to tell the tale.
What is your current in-between or can you think about a time when you had to wait for something to happen? How did you deal with it? How did you move on from it? I would love to hear your experiences😊
Until next time,