Displacement (n) — the act of moving something from its usual place or position
Wow. Sometimes we fail to realize how comfortable we’ve become in a certain set of circumstances until they are pulled like a rug out from under our feet. I’ve been struggling these past few months with the feeling of displacement and what it means to immerse yourself in a season of transition, when everything feels transient, impermanent and uncertain.
A month and a half ago, I packed up my college apartment and left the city I’ve called home for four years to move to Clarksville until I start my new job at the end of June. I’ve been spending my time nearly equally between my Toyota Camry, Green Hills Starbucks, and friends’ couches (Shoutout to everyone who has been letting me crash with you these past few weeks–I’m forever grateful!), and while it has been a grand adventure in learning to adapt to changing circumstances, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel strange not to have my own space anymore. I don’t think I gave much thought to the meaning of a home until I was without one of my own, and the realization that I will be traveling for the next year with nothing more than a few suitcases is thrilling and deeply frightening all at the same time.
How can we conquer the feeling of displacement without having a physical place to claim as ours? I think the most meaningful lesson I’m learning here is that place is a complex idea that encompasses more than a “You Are Here” dot on a map. It has to do with our entire set of surroundings and perspectives, and whenever those are shifted, it leaves us reeling without a sense of direction. Transitions make life richer but also profoundly uncomfortable and unsettling.
When I share news of my post-grad plans with people, I’m typically met with responses such as, “What an exciting time. You must be thrilled!” or “How fun it must be to have the freedom to see the country while you’re young!” While these statements are both absolutely true, sometimes I also want to add that traveling alone without a home can leave one feeling unsteady and confused. I want to say, “Thank you, but here’s another crucial part of my reality: I’m feeling utterly lost in this season of changes.”
I think it’s important to acknowledge that displacement brings about its own unique set of challenges, but it also holds promises of growth and contentment if we allow ourselves to settle into the discomfort of the present moment. I’ve been asking myself to be fully present in this time of transition without immersing my thoughts too deeply in the past or future. It can be far too easy to fall into the trap of “what if” and “I wish,” trying to plan or change circumstances that are altogether outside of our control. This month of couch-surfing and eating burritos out of my car is teaching me a powerful lesson about letting go of expectation and allowing life to run its course. I am sitting here (at Starbucks–who’s surprised?) without a home, without a concrete plan, and without a semblance of control over what the next year holds. And most of all, I’m rejoicing in the uncertainty that comes along with this changing season.
Bring on June 28! Well, not until I pack my suitcases and clean out my car, but you get the picture. I am so excited for all this new chapter of life has to teach!