Centering Values During Transitions

Brandi Pretlow
Brandi Pretlow

Shout out to everyone who is graduating this year! Transitions can be full of mixed emotions – excitement, fear, eagerness, anxiety, hope, and anticipation, just to name a few! In transitional moments, I have found that maintaining positive interpersonal connections and taking purposeful action in alignment with my values and interests have supported me.

About a week after I graduated from college, I moved to Boston, MA, for a fellowship program in education. It was a significant move on all fronts! I had lived in California since I was one year old and had been to the East Coast maybe once or twice. I had never visited Boston, didn’t see my apartment until I moved in, and was moving in with roommates whom I had never met. I also shifted my field of study from an engineering field to education/non-profit work. Phew! On top of that, a few people in my family questioned my decision-making, fueling some doubts in my mind. 

The transition wasn’t easy, and yes, when things got tough, I questioned my choices, but those years were also filled with many beautiful learning moments. Retrospectively, I can definitively say that that time of my life was meaningful because it aligned with the values that I still hold today (and that are currently displayed on my iPad wallpaper). Centering connection, exploration, growth, joy, courage, and service grounded me and provided a sense of confidence in knowing that although my life decisions may seem random, they are very much rooted in what’s important to me. I remained connected with college friends and still remain friends with them 20 years later. I explored the East Coast and eventually moved to DC after the fellowship was over. I grew in too many ways to list here. I felt joyous whenever one of my lessons at school went well. I was courageous (or naive 🙂) when I thought my California “coat” would last through Boston’s winter. I served Boston, and the community served me. A few decades and hundreds of transitions later, my values continue to uncover pathways I could have never imagined.

As you embark on your next chapter, here are some reflection questions to consider: What are my values and interests? How am I centering my values and interests now? How can I center them in the next part of my journey? Since you’re reading this post on the Active Minds website, I’m going to assume you have an interest in mental health!  We’ve been working alongside our Alumni Board to build support for emerging and young professionals to continue to take action for mental health in their workplace and through their careers. So, as you start to answer the reflection questions above, we invite you to explore the programs and resources below to continue to center your values and interest in mental health through this transition and beyond!

Empower yourself to make a difference: 

Let’s tackle mental health together – one story, one connection, one career at a time!