Reentry can be both exciting and frustrating! Our attitude toward release from prison is that it should be a simple matter of getting resettled, resuming routines, and reestablishing your relationships; but reality proves there is much more to it than that. Here is a list of tips to consider that can help you go through the transition process:
1. Mentally prepare for the adjustment process. Be prepared for anything!
2. Give yourself permission to ease into the transition. Allow yourself time to acclimate to the new environment.
3. Give yourself time. You’ll need time to relax and reflect upon what is going on around you, how you are reacting to it, and what you might like to change.
4. Understand that the familiar will seem different. You have changed; home has changed. You will see familiar people, places, and behaviors from new perspectives.
5. Expect to do some ‘cultural catching up’. Clothes, trends, language, and more have changed, too!
6. Reserve judgments. Reserve all judgments of others, but especially negative judgments; just as you would like to have others reserve judgments of you. Resist the impulse to make snap decisions.
7. Expect mood swings. It is entirely possible for you to feel ecstatic one moment and completely defeated a short time later. It’s okay; it is a part of the process.
8. Allow sufficient time for reflection and self-analysis. Your most valid and valuable analysis of an event is likely to take place after allowing time for reflection.
9. Respond to inquiries thoughtfully and carefully. Prepare to greet surprise questions with a calm, thoughtful approach. If you find yourself being overly defensive or aggressive, take a deep breath and relax.
10. Seek support networks. Don't isolate yourself!
To prepare yourself for upcoming challenges, it is safe to expect the following:
- You will have to prove yourself (over and over and over).
- People will make many assumptions about who you are now.
- You will be different than when you left; your family and friends will be different, too!
- People will expect things from you, especially a plan for your life.
- The way you’d hoped things would be will be different from the way they are.