During this period of transitions and uncertainties, and we are heading into yet another new phase: the 2021-2022 school year. Whether you are a student, teacher, or parent, there are bound to be some strong emotions involved. I'd like to encourage you to take some time before school starts to examine where you are and where you'd like to be. For me, writing in a journal or notebook helps keep my thoughts in a straight line. Otherwise, I tend to circle around the same same ideas. If you'd prefer not to write, though, that's completely fine as well! Whatever is most helpful for you. If you're the parent of a student, maybe take some time at the dinner table to have a discussion about it. Here are some questions to get you started.
What is one goal you have for this school year? Try to make it a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). Consider talking to a friend about being accountability buddies.
What is something that you would like to continue from last year?
What is one small habit that can make things go more smoothly for you this year (picking out clothes the night before, waking up a little bit earlier so you have time to meditate, taking a few minutes on Sunday night to prepare for the week ahead, etc.)?
What is one thing that you're worried or concerned about? Is there evidence that this is a likely outcome? If not, remind yourself of the evidence that supports it not happening. If it is a possibility, come up with a game plan or think of someone you can reach out to so you're prepared and ready to tackle the problem if it occurs.
If you're the parent of a college freshman (like me), how are you feeling about this? Are you concerned about the changing dynamic? What is one thing about your child that you are especially proud of?
If affirmations work well for you, try out "I am capable of growth and learning new skills", or "I will make the most of the opportunities I am presented with, even if they aren't what I expected".
Remember, you are not alone. This is a challenging time for everyone, to say the least. I don't want to diminish this experience by trying to sell you on a silver lining. Whatever lessons we've learned through this collective experience could certainly have been learned at a much lower cost. However, we should still, as often as we can, take a moment to notice the light shining through the darkness and share it with others.