Coping with Change and Transitions
Date: March 11, 2021
To: The NYU Community
From: Linda G Mills, Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice Provost for Global Programs and University Life; Zoe Ragouzeos, Assistant Vice President, Student Mental Health and Executive Director, Counseling and Wellness Services, Student Health Center; and Sabrina Ellis, Vice President, Human Resources
Dear Members of the NYU Community,
As we approach the point where we can begin to contemplate the next chapter in this journey, many people have expressed uncertainty about reimagining their lives as the world feels so fundamentally changed. It makes sense to feel a wide range of emotions as we take in the lessons and consequences from all that has happened.
These are all understandable feelings against the backdrop of such a dramatic period in our lives, one that is also marked by tremendous uncertainty, by separation and isolation, and by loss, including, for some, people within their families or communities, and also in their professional lives at work. We are reminded that those who have suffered loss within the NYU community need our support — even as we make positive steps forward to a more normal way of life.
Many scholars and practitioners have recognized a difference between transitions and change, most notably William Bridges. Whereas change may occur suddenly, much in the way that many of us experienced the pandemic’s emergence, transition is a more extended process, one that takes account of and recognizes that there are emotions that we may need to acknowledge that often underpin that change. Noting these feelings can help smooth the way for the change that can feel so abrupt. If these ideas speak to you, here is some additional information on Bridge's Transition Framework.
The pandemic will forever punctuate a period in our lives; it will stand as a generation-defining event. Some people are ready to move on and have nothing more to discuss. Some may not quite believe all that they have navigated — and continue to navigate — since the pandemic began. This is proof of a resilience they did not know they had, or a struggle they never want to have to endure again. Others are mourning and looking for a place for that grief. For many, taking steps toward the future will require support from others — a circle that may include friends, and family, and professionals.
We hope that you feel supported — even empowered — to seek whatever help you need as we continue to endure this pandemic together and imagine new ways of living individually and as a community. The University has many resources to help. For all of us, the experiences of this period of time will linger long after we transition. However, one thing is clear: while this is a moment of hope and discovery it continues to be tough for everyone in different ways.
The CDC describes grief as a "normal response" to a traumatic event. "Grief can happen in response to loss of life, as well as to drastic changes to daily routines and ways of life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability." No wonder some of us are feeling anxiety or sadness, or are having trouble sleeping, among other disruptive emotions or experiences.
Rituals can offer support and healing as we address the changes we have experienced over the past year. As a community we will be gathering on March 16th at 11am for “Marking Change: A Gathering of Reflection and Hope" to recognize the significance of the many long months of COVID in our community.
NYU offers a host of supportive services to all those who seek this kind of support, from mindfulness classes to access to counselors. The Wellness Exchange; the Employee Assistance Program; the Student Health Center; the Office of Global Spiritual Life; the Office of Work Life; the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation; Student Affairs staff; Residence Life staff; webinars and courses offered through iLearn for our employees on handling change, as well as other offerings, and your dean’s offices, all stand ready to support you.
We wish you well. Be gentle with yourself. If you are struggling; please reach out to us and we will do everything we can to help you.