Fear of the unknown. So many questions and not enough definitive answers. People are more divided than ever. Will we ever get back to “normal”? What does “normal” even mean anymore? Does it seem like there’s more fear than hope lately?
You’re not alone. There are definitely so many questions that every person ponders on a daily basis. It’s scary and a lot to handle. I can’t say that I haven’t had my moments of uncertainty and fear. Those moments are to be expected as a human being. But I don’t set up camp and live there.
“Normal” doesn’t exist. It never has. Life is always changing. Our individual circumstances are changing, our government officials change, jobs, amount of money, diseases to watch out for. Look back at when you were a kid. How much of life can you say has stayed exactly the same? Probably not much. But you’ve adapted. You’ve overcome the obstacles and you’re still here to read this email so you haven’t died. Bravo! You’ve made it through 100% of your trials, tribulations and bad days. Guess what? You’re going to make it through this too, the same way you did all the rest. The best part is, in 5 years, you’re going to look back and be truly astonished at how you’ve handled everything! Are the circumstances different? Yes. Is there still fear? Yes. Are there still unknowns? Yes.
You’re not afraid of the unknown. You’re afraid of the belief you’ve created around the unknown. It’s human nature to automatically gravitate toward the negative instead of the positive. If it were the other way around, sales tactics, the media and the idea of what would happen if you missed curfew when you were in high school wouldn’t have worked as well. Fear is an emotion that was given to you to keep you safe. Anxiety is when that fear is amped up because you’re looking too far into the future without having all of the variables accounted for. It’s like trying to make a cake when you don’t know what temperature to set the oven for, how many eggs to use or if you need to use water or oil. You don’t have all the ingredients or a complete recipe. Sure, you can wing it. But what are the chances of it turning out great? You must wait for the rest of the information. Can you name one situation in your life where you got anxious and the resolution turned out worse than you imagined? Most likely not because we fear the worst.
Can you prepare for the possibility of job loss? Sure. Cut back on what you can. Save money if possible. Pay off debts if possible. But until you know if that’s a for sure, stop worrying about it. What you focus on expands. If you’re focusing on the negative, you’re going to receive a lot more negative. Will you have enough money to live on if the job loss does happen? Yes! If you’re reading this email, you have a mindset that, even if it’s a small amount, wants to live your best life. Trust me when I say (because I’ve been there), that you are an intelligent human being! You have the capability to go get another job! Is it the job you want? Maybe not. But could it also be the job you’ve dreamed of your entire life and didn’t even know it was your calling because you’ve had blinders on with the current one? It’s a possibility! So you can focus on the idea of the future being awful or of the infinite possibilities, the choice is yours and will grow based on the decision you make.
Many of you know that I also teach Kindergarten when I’m not coaching. I have taught four different grade levels in the last 5 1/2 years now and I’ve been in 3 different districts so I have a good outlook on a lot of different perspectives and experiences. Here’s what I can tell you.
Homeschool or in school? What works best for YOUR family? There is no cookie cutter approach here. This is a whole new era of education, not only for your family but also for the teachers. “Normal” classrooms are not what is to come. Colorful walls, fun and interactive lessons are not what we get to do. Kids will not be socializing like they used to. The “fun” in our job and in your child’s learning has been removed by something we know just as much about as you do. We didn’t prepare for this. This is not what we went to college for. This is not what we signed up for when we got into teaching, just like we didn’t sign up for the possibility of being gunned down by a psychopath. But you know what? We adapt. Educators pay hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars out of their own already underpaid pockets every single year to give kids the best possible experience in learning. Educators didn’t choose to teach for the summers off or because it was the “easiest profession to choose from”. Yes, someone actually said that to me yesterday. Educators get paid for 180 days of teaching. That paycheck is then divided over 12 months. That’s what’s contracted. What’s not accounted for in the other 180 days is grading, planning, continuing education, planning for the next year, consoling parents who don’t “get” the homework, and the list goes on forever. Educators are constantly looking at what’s not working and changing it to be better. Even now, virtual learning was expected to be put into place in less than a week last spring. Was it a sh*t show? In some cases. But teachers know that! They’ve adapted and they’ve worked all summer to make this Fall an even better experience! They do this job to make sure that the future generations will be good, educated, contributing members of society. They do it because they love it. But you know what? Educators are only half of the team. Parents make up that other half and have a louder, stronger presence than the education system does. If you are discouraged with the way the education system is handling things, ask yourself if it’s because you’re not having your expectations met or if they’re really just not handling things well. Are your expectations reasonable? Could you do better? Have you ever been in their shoes? If not, check your mindset. Check what you’re saying out loud. Your thoughts and beliefs are being instilled into your child and I guarantee those thoughts and beliefs are being passed along to their teachers. Teachers who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, just like you are as a parent.
There is not one plan of action for your job, the education or your children, the way you hold social gatherings, or the way you get your groceries in the foreseeable future that is going to make everyone happy, going to fit everyone’s circumstances, going to work for everyone. Stop asking your neighbor what they’re going to do, what works for your friend, your pastor or the Amazon delivery driver. Their circumstances are not yours.
Work with the ingredients you’ve been given. Really look at your expectations, your thoughts and your beliefs. SLOW. IT. DOWN. Y’all know I’m a big fan of the enneagram. Every number handles stress, conflict, and change differently. Nobody is right or wrong. Everyone has their own perspective, their own families with their own circumstances. Everyone gets to make a decision for themselves and shouldn’t have the added stress of judgement added to it. Try for the sake of your mental health and the sanity of those around you to focus on the good. Write out 10 things you’re grateful for every day. It’s one of the few things that I’ve done every day for the last year and a half and it’s what gets me through the hardships of situations like this. It’s physically impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time. But in everything, remember that one thing that hasn’t changed is that you have the choice to focus on the negative or the positive. What you focus on grows.