Back to School, Back to Resilience
As a mentor of mine used to say, "here we go!" It's September and students are back in school. As a parent with two in elementary school and the founder of a private career college, it is front and center of my mind.
What comes to mind is resilience. My heart goes out to all of our students who are anxious, uncertain, scared and who are reacting and responding to all that the back-to-school experience throws at them—and also to us, their parents and caregivers.
I said resilient earlier in this piece because it is how I respond to all the anxiety and emotions that arise around this time of year. Being uncomfortable is a pathway to being self-sufficient and hence leading to resilience later in life. By staying uncomfortable, we can transform that into resilience and keep moving forward.
In my experience, we sometimes let our emotions get the better of us as parents/caregivers, with the ones we love so much tugging at our hearts. I believe it's important for us to model behaviour that shows them that we have their backs and that what they are experiencing is normal and a necessary component of their growth. As hard as it can be, we don't do anybody any favours by bending to the upset. If we love them up, we will develop a resilient generation that will do the same for the next generation.
I can empathize with all of our students today because of all of the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into our lives—along with many questions. How will the vaccine affect my health and my body? Will my career ever get started? How has the pandemic affected my education and will I be prepared for my career? Will I be exposed and get sick with covid? Will I infect someone else? Do I really want to enter the world as an adult? I am being robbed of my college experience? These are some of the thoughts that I have gathered from students. They are real and valid. My answer to them is that it is what it is, it's not what it is not. Choose what you make it mean. Be clear on the impact of what you make it all mean. Get that everything is a choice. Be as clear as possible as to the impact of what you choose, and move forward. This is resilience.
To be added, the normal emotions that students feel when starting school are, am I smart enough? Do I have enough time to do all that I have to do? Will I be a disappointment to my parents and teachers? Will I get the program I want? Will I make the grade? Will I make friends? Will I keep my friends? Will people like me? What will happen, what will I do if I fail?