This week, we took time to reflect on how to know when something in your life is or isn’t working for you. In our weekly “From the Editor’s Desk” column and in our newsletter, we asked Verily readers: “What do you like or dislike about transitions? What have you learned from the transitions you’ve experienced?”

Here is a selection of the reflections women shared with us (note: some reflections have been edited for clarity and brevity).

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“I like the excitement of change that comes with transitions in life. If feels like a moment to organize my life again.”
– Kara, Austin, Texas

“What I like about transitions is the opportunity to reset and contemplate what makes me happy. I schedule so much of my life around a half-year, a yearly, or even a five- or ten-year goal.

“The three major transitions in my life—going to college in another state, moving to a new city to start my first internship / professional job, and upending my life to move to France for three months to study baking—all have given me the opportunity to reflect on what I want, and what I believe will make me happy.

“What I learned from these transitions is that no change actually makes you happy. It’s something that comes from within. Happiness so much of the time is a conscious choice inside oneself, although certain places or careers can seriously hinder this choice. I can be anywhere in the world, but I’m always with myself. No matter the setting, if I don’t choose happiness, I won’t be happy.”

– Noelle, Agde, France

“I like transitions because they shake things up and can really help you reevaluate certain aspects of your life. However, I’ve never been super great when it comes to handling change; while reevaluation is good, I really struggle being pushed out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to major life transitions.”
– Annie, Front Royal, Virginia

“My temperament is melancholic-phlegmatic, which on paper means I’m adverse to change. This might describe my first reaction to the prospect of a transition, but it never lasts very long, and as I approach my mid-twenties I find I'm growing increasingly eager for change. By the end of this summer I will have lived in three places in three years—some of them a few thousand miles apart—for college, then a new job, and now for grad school. Far from distressing my life and preventing its progress, this activity serves to refresh my life and allow it to flourish with fresh experiences and new communities, bringing me out of myself and allowing me to develop gifts I didn't even know I had and which probably would have lain dormant if I had been stuck in the same place for the past few years. It’s taught me that change is a natural, human good that we should strive for and embrace. When we avoid change, we also limit our potential, and refuse to stir up some of the best things we’re capable of. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous for my next transition. There are still a lot of unknowns. But we all have the choice to change our sources of anxiety into windows of opportunity, to be excited instead of nervous, and to replace any feeling of dread with bold plans of hope for the good things around the corner.”
– Mary Catherine, Northfield, Massachusetts

“What I dislike about transitions is how hard they are to face at first. They can be daunting and terrifying when you’re faced with one, especially when you are going into uncharted waters in your life. The best thing about transitions is when you overcome them and you know that you are a different person than when you started. The biggest transition in my life happened this last year. I was ready to graduate high school and go to college when the pandemic hit. I finished high school and thought, ‘That wasn’t so bad, give the world some months, and by autumn everything will go back to normal.’ It didn’t. In autumn I began my first semester of online college, and my first weeks were full of anxiety and sleepless nights trying to figure out how to live college life from my bedroom just using a laptop. Little by little, I began to become more organized and to manage my time effectively so that school would not be too stressful. I also joined a student organization despite my crazy transition, and I think that it is the best thing I could’ve done. Having other friends and peers to talk to about my struggles helped me overcome my freshmen anxiety. Fast-forward to today, I am still doing online school, but I don't worry as much anymore. I still talk to my friends several times a week through Zoom. Some of my achievements are that I have thrived in online school with good grades and remained active in an amazing student organization despite the craziness of our world. What I learned from this transition experience is that perseverance and good friendships are crucial in a journey to an unknown future.”
– Cristina, El Paso, Texas

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