It’s Not “Goodbye”
Within the past month, there have been a lot of changes in my life. First, one of my closest friends moved across the country to pursue her dreams in New York. I moved away from my roommate (also a close friend of mine), and now I only see her every once in a while. And now, I’m living with another friend about 30 minutes away.
While all of this was happening, Kim, our Executive Director, asked me how I was feeling about all the moving pieces in my life. The only word that came to my mind was “stressed”. Of course, her follow up question was “Why are you stressed?” I knew this question was coming but didn’t quite know how to answer it.
As someone who thrives on change and prides myself on being able to adapt to different situations, I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt the way that I did. I was excited to live in my new apartment, I was happy for my friend in New York, and I know that I will always be friends with my previous roommate. And that’s when it hit me!
I wasn’t stressed about my situation changing. I was stressed, or I guess the better word is worried, about how my relationships with these three people in my life might change. I think these feelings come from the groups that I have been a part of before. From being in ASB in high school to various clubs in college, and even working as a cashier at Sprinkles Cupcakes, I developed so many great friendships that I now miss. The people that I used to work within these groups are off doing great things in their life, but I don’t talk to them as much anymore. The reason I was worried was because I didn’t want these friendships to change; I like them the way they are.
So what have I been missing? I started thinking about what I could have done to preserve my relationships in the past, and what popped into my head was the Group Development Model.
The Group Development Model says that people naturally move through different “stages” together. We start with Forming relationships as we get to know each other. We’ll move through Storming and Norming as we get more familiar, experience conflict, and work to develop trust. And eventually, with our closest friendships we’ll reach Performing – where these relationships are founded in support, loyalty, and tagging each other in memes. I spend a lot of time getting to this stage with the people in my life. But, when things change we have to think about one more stage: Adjourning. We go through this stage when we go through transitions or farewells. And this is the stage that I was neglecting in my friendships.
The Adjourning stage is a time for nostalgia and celebration but it also might be marked with feelings of sadness or loss. We often overlook this stage as we get focused instead on the future and what’s to come. But this stage is just as important as all of the others, and properly Adjourning can help us better process change in our relationships.
As an action and solution-oriented person, I thought of a few tips to help myself and others through this Adjourning stage:
- Recognize that things change: It’s okay for things to change. The Group Development Model “resets” at the Forming stage with each change – new places, people, jobs etc. Acknowledging that we may need to start over helps us to manage expectations and in turn alleviate stress.
- Be communicative: Getting on the same page with the people in your life is important. Be sure to communicate the way that you are feeling about change – the good and the bad – to who matters. Naming these things helps us to acknowledge our needs and can help others to meet them with meaningful offers.
- Make plans: Schedule regular Skype dates, phone calls, or hangouts. Develop ways to help maintain some sort of structure or consistency in your relationships.
- Follow through: Things change when you let them. If you make plans, make sure to stick to them, or if something pops up, immediately reschedule instead of “leaving it up in the air.” Maintaining relationships doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it does take some work.
Don’t let the stress and worry of change paralyze you or the relationships you want to keep. Try implementing these tips to help you to be successful through the Adjourning phase of the Group Development Model! “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later”
If your group is going through the Adjourning stage, try some of these activities to help your group transition and adjust:
*Meet the Author*
Gino Calavitta is an avid Netflix watcher who enjoys practicing American Sign Language and going to concerts!