Liminal spacing; what is it? You’ve likely heard the term in recent years, as it’s becoming more widely used to describe the transformative spaces life often brings us to. Liminal spaces can be a time of great change, peace, and reflection, and they’re different from other spaces.
Have you ever found yourself on the threshold of great change? A divorce? The end of trauma? A breakup? Liminal spaces are a time to learn and move forward, but let’s dive deeper into how liminal spaces are different from others.
In this guide, we’ll cover what liminal spacing is, when it occurs, and how you can use it to enter a new (and hopefully happier) phase of life. Read on!
The word liminal comes from the Latin root “limen”, which means threshold. A threshold is the beginning of a new space, much like the threshold between rooms in a house, a stairway, elevator, or even an empty parking lot. Physical liminal spaces offer excellent representations of the liminal spaces we experience in our emotional human journeys.
Think of a time when you found yourself on the threshold of a new phase in life. Coming of age journeys have often been viewed as the most important transitionary period in human life. Cultures all over the world held various ceremonies for the coming of age for men and women. This transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the best examples of liminality.
Examples Of Emotional Liminal Spaces
Let’s take a more intimate look at liminality. Liminality can occur at any point in life, but some of the most common liminal spaces are as follows:
Divorce: Divorce can be one of the most painful and transformative liminal spaces you’ll ever experience. A marriage is a life-long pact, and when it’s broken, the emotional damage can be extensive. Many newly divorced partners find themselves unsure of where to go or who they are; their entire identity was wrapped up in being a married man or woman. This period involves some serious reflection and, hopefully, personal growth.
Coming of Age: We’ve already mentioned this space, but what does it really mean to come of age? The transition from childhood to adulthood symbolizes the loss of innocence, the entrance into the reality of life, and the realization that being young is a gift. Cultures worldwide appreciate the symbolism in this liminal space, and while we don’t exactly celebrate it in the US (as a culture at large), there are still ethnic groups that keep the tradition alive.
Gender Liminality: Some people are born into a body they simply don’t feel comfortable with. At some point in life, they’ll find themselves in a liminal space between who they were born as and who they feel they should be. This can be especially difficult in terms of liminal spacing, given the current political and social environment surrounding gender roles and identities.
Job Loss: With the current COVID-19 crisis tightening its grip on the US, many Americans have found themselves in an unexpected liminal space. The loss of a job or career can leave you feeling uncertain of where to go, who you are, or what your purpose is; especially if you’ve spent a number of years building your career.
What Lies Ahead
The beauty and horror of what lies ahead is what makes liminal spaces so exhilarating and terrifying all at once. On one hand, a better future could be waiting just over that bridge. One where you’re happy, comfortable, and satisfied with your decisions. On the other hand, there could be greater challenges ahead, and maybe even more pain and sorrow.
Don’t let this fear of the unknown paralyze you and prevent growth. The only way to grow is to cross that bridge headlong into the storm. It’s going to take some courage, but life is cyclic; things come and go, experiences and people will pass you by, and life goes on whether you move with it or not.
Sure, things will be tumultuous at times, but what you know for certain is that once you reach that threshold, that liminal space, you can not go back. There’s no going back to the way things were, and they may never be the same; and that’s ok!
Understanding liminal spacing is important to making sense of those transitionary periods you will undoubtedly experience during your lifetime. Remember that a liminal space can be a time of growth, but only if you’re looking forward. You can always look back fondly at memories, lessons learned, and people you miss, but to become stuck in the past is to become rooted in what was instead of reaching for what will be.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support during this difficult time, but remember, it’s up to you to decide to cross the bridge into your next phase of life.