The start of a new school year can be daunting, and for most it is. This year, with all the uncertainty and cloudiness surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, I venture to guess that the majority of our student body feels the anxiety and pressure surrounding our current situation.
As uncomfortable as most of us feel in the midst of uncertainty and as dreadful as ‘not knowing’ is, there’s another perspective that I invite you to consider. This as an opportunity to lean into our uncertainties and anxieties about what might come next. Consider this an amazing opportunity to relinquish control and to be okay with not knowing.
We live in a culture obsessed with having information immediately. We feel unsatisfied with the unknown, so we aggressively cling to the ‘what ifs’ which turn into ‘hows’ which inevitably lead us down the dark road with a dead end at fear.
In order to avoid this lonely and scary experience of fear based in uncertainty, we might consider an alternative emotional reaction with acceptance. When we can accept the uncertainty that surrounds us, we can experience stillness. The more we lean into the things that bring us discomfort — whether that be relationships, financial concerns, academic work or health issues — the more relaxed we become when faced with these realities. When we run, we will always be chased, but when we stand our ground and look our fears in the eye, we can more clearly see these fears for what they really are — figments of our imagination.
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung said, “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” This quote emphasizes the importance of nonresistance because when we resist our fears, instead of accepting them as they are or as we perceive them to be, we are unable to settle our minds. When we can stop resisting altogether, we allow ourselves to live freely and be happier in our present moments. In other words, when we alter our negative reactions to our circumstances and instead try to see their benefits, we often may find that we are in control of any and all situations based on the way we choose to react. Fear can drive us into very strange places, and the more we run, the faster it follows. When we choose to react positively or neutrally, we discover that we can save ourselves from ourselves.
I invite our student body to look at this semester as an opportunity to accept what life brings us and to find goodness in the midst of uncertainty. Life is our own creation. The more we lean into our lives, the more enjoyment we experience. The plans we may have had for this semester have been disrupted, but that does not mean we will crumble.
Trust in the process and take the steps ahead with ease.