Dear Beloved Students,
I know that you have been working hard to prepare for exams that you will no longer take. I know that you’ve committed yourself to months of rehearsals for a show that will no longer be seen, and that you’ve practiced for hours on a team that can no longer play the game. I am sorry for your feelings of loss and urge you not to give up on those goals, but instead, to view this season as an opportunity to continue to grow. You’ve been isolated from your friends, your teachers, your school. The comfort of your home has been tainted by the weight of heavy air, tense energy, short responses, and stern expressions. I am sorry that you are scared—for so many reasons. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Take these days to sit and observe the stir around you. Allow yourself permission to disregard unnecessary pressures during this time. I understand that academic progress is important to you, but remember that so much is learned through life experience. Trust that this period of uncertainty will pave the way for a deeper level of understanding than any conventional classroom environment could have. I am sorry that it may go against everything that you’ve been taught up until this point. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
As best as you are able, be kind to yourself. Though many of us find comfort in routine, it is important to recognize that there is nothing “normal” about these circumstances. Allow yourself time to process and acknowledge the realities of the new world around you. Keeping yourself distracted out of fear will only deter the development of coping mechanisms that will serve you throughout your lifetime. Give yourself permission to feel anxious and afraid for a short period, but then recognize this season as an opportunity to mature into the active, responsive community member that you were always meant to be. These hard days will teach you about citizenship, leadership, and problem solving. I am sorry that your normal routine has been turned upside down. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Take note of the quiet heroes around you. The ones who you may not have always seen or appreciated. The ones who instinctively wave their families goodbye each morning to charge the front lines of this monster, despite their fears. Coming from all different educational and career backgrounds, they are similar in their ability to recognize their place in this fight for the better interest of humanity. These people will leave you feeling inspired and grateful for the rest of your lives. These people will teach you about honor, commitment, and service. I am sorry that we need so many heroes right. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Make a concerted effort to spend time with the people you love. Within the confines of your own home, play a board game. Have a dance party. Write a heartfelt letter and slip it under someone’s door. Act in ways that will promote interpersonal communication and quality time. In this digital era, we’ve become disconnected as human beings. This is a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with one another. Though we are apart, we can still find ways to be “together.” Utilize technology as a means of connecting with other people who you cannot physically be with. Call them. Listen to them. Identify with them. For some who are lonely and scared, simply hearing your voice may provide a great sense of hope and comfort. Take care in the way that you treat the people who are dearest to you. Make sure that they know how you feel. I am sorry that we cannot be together right now. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Connect with nature, as well. While there may feel like no place to “go,” stepping out into fresh air can make a world of difference. Any time of the day, step outside. Take a mug of something warm, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and listen. Nature will speak to you. Notice the colors changing around you as the days pass. Walk. Look for different shapes in the clouds. When the most difficult moments arise, refer back to nature for comfort and resolve. In these unsettling times, the wonder in the world around you will remain constant. These days of being homebound days will teach you about mindfulness, beauty, and spirituality. I am sorry that at times, you may feel trapped. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Pitch in when you can. Adults are not accustomed to trying to balance childcare with household chores and working from home. Additionally, widespread unemployment is creating financial hardship for a majority of families. There will also be limited availability for ideal food choices and other novelties that you may otherwise be accustomed to. Learn from your elders about how to prepare meals with staple ingredients in your home. Make a family game of meal planning on a budget, or a race to find who makes a bed the fastest. Help out with the laundry responsibilities. Organize a space that has been needing attention. These household responsibilities will teach you about resourcefulness, consumerism, and teamwork. I’m sorry that your home life feels more stressed than usual. But, I want you to know—from this season, you will grow.
Most importantly, we are all in this together. Every person regardless of socio-economic class will feel the wrath of this historical experience in some way. We will all feel fear. We will all miss hugging someone, or casually meeting for a cup of coffee in our favorite local shop. We will all feel some kind of loss. There is no amount of money that can buy our guaranteed health and safety. In fact, this season will teach many of us that money has nothing to do with wealth. Throughout this experience, we will all seek solace in nature and comfort in our loved ones. With each passing day, we will all walk forward with a renewed perspective. We will all recognize essential workers as our unsung heroes. We will be all be reminded of the simpler pleasures that we have taken for granted. We will all come out of this experience with a greater appreciation for life.
This season presents itself with a blank canvas for every single one of us. And I want you to know—from that canvas, we will grow.
Copyright 2020 Denise Roland All Rights Reserved. This was previously posted on DeniseRoland.com
About Denise Roland
Denise D’Angelo Roland is a “Mom’s Choice Award” winning children’s book author (“Please, Look up at Me” and “Papa’s Gift”) and creator of the Intentionally Unplugged initiative. She grew up on the East End of Long Island, New York. At a young age, Denise knew that she wanted to become a teacher of wellness-related issues to students of all ages. With two Master’s degrees in each of Health Education and School Counseling, she is an experienced educator in the public school setting for more than 15 years.
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