Twice a week for most weeks of the year I meet a small group of women in Fort Tryon Park at 6am for an outdoor exercise class. I am a hard-core night person so getting up in the dark and exercising before the sun is up requires a herculean effort and vats of coffee. But, over the past decade I have grown addicted to the mental cleanse the class provides and the wisdom, encouragement and laughter we share as a group in those early morning hours. We have seen a veritable zoo of animals over the years in Fort Tryon including woodchucks, skunks, squirrels, all kinds of birds, snakes, frogs, dogs, cats, and, once, a coyote. The skunks are the most prevalent, and the most jarring – you haven’t really tested your athletic prowess until you have sprinted by a family of skunks in the park in the dark. (I have never run faster.) I’m told that even though skunks are nocturnal animals, they love the liminal time – the hours between night and dawn – the transitional stage, the boundary position.
We are all in the liminal time right now, just ending the semester, finishing up finals and papers, wrapping up grading, scheduling final meetings before summer, packing and unpacking, preparing to move, to celebrate, to start a new internship or job, saying goodbye to old friends and hello to new colleagues. Some of you are joining TC’s community for the first time. Others are ending your first full year of studies with us. Some are graduating. None of us is standing still, yet most of us have not yet moved beyond the liminal time. Transitions can fill us with anxiety and excitement simultaneously. We often feel uneasy – optimistic and anticipatory, yes, but also nervous and out of sorts. The boundary position is challenging, but also precious.
In Kurt Lewin’s language of “Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze” we are in the Change phase – the time of upheaval, turbulence, movement and growth. We will all refreeze soon enough so I urge you to savor these days. Try to pay attention to what you are doing, thinking and feeling during this liminal time. Take a few moments to reflect on all you have learned and how much you have grown the past year. Steady yourself when you feel apprehensive and relish the feelings of excitement and hopefulness about what is yet to come.
You have all worked very hard this year. I speak on behalf of all my Social-Organizational Psychology faculty colleagues and staff when I tell you we are proud of you and that we are wishing you well. Please know you will always have a community here at Teachers College and that you take that community with you wherever you go.
Happy end of semester! Happy graduation! Happy summer! I look forward to seeing you soon.
Sarah Brazaitis, PhD
MA Program Director