Let’s take a step back and look at what we’ve been continuing to overcome, and what we can gain from our world being temporarily closed.

What we can gain? It sounds crazy, I know. For many of us, so much of this still feels foreign and overwhelming, but I promise within this uncertainty, there’s learning to be done.

One of my elementary school students asked me, “Mrs. Ryan, is it kinda weird to like being at home all the time?”

I could tell he was afraid to mention it in front of his classmates, in case they didn’t feel the same way. It was clear to me, with lots of head nodding from his peers, that many did feel the same way he was feeling.

I replied, “No, buddy, it’s absolutely not weird. It actually makes a lot of sense to me.”

Some of us may have needed this pause, a break from our busy, nonstop schedules. Many of us are not disciplined to take this kind of pause and rest on our own—pushing ourselves until we feel exhausted, tired and overwhelmed. For many of us, it’s become our way of being and our nature.

It’s sad it took a pandemic to stop us in our tracks, for us to really pay attention to our needs, and the needs of those around us.

So, “no, buddy. It’s not weird that you’re basking in this break.” 

For many of us, it doesn’t feel like a much of a “break” or a restful time.

It may feel like the pandemic has doubled our workload, and it’s just as exhausting, if not more exhausting than before.

In working with so many students, parents and teachers, I’ve seen people find solutions to seemingly impossible situations. I’ve had people say to me, in the middle of these seemingly impossible situations, “It’s been so hard, but I’m grateful my family is safe and healthy.”

For some—this pandemic is stretching us thin, and pushing us to new levels of strength within ourselves that we didn’t even know existed.

Resilience makes itself known, and I’ve witnessed a lot of it from everyone, including children. Many students desperately miss being at school—they miss being around their friends and peers, their teachers, and the simple things, like recess. That desperate longing, sadness, grief, and that kind of “missing,” can also truly highlight how much we love those things.

The absence of what used to feel so normal and monotonous, is now what we long for so desperately.

When we’re reunited with what previously felt so routine—we’ll embrace it, not wanting let go ever again. It’s interesting how that powerful feeling of loss can also bring us closer to gratitude, closer than we’ve ever been before. 

For some, the pandemic has also emphasized a few things that needed to be supported years ago—almost like a home repair that was left untouched, and as a result grew weaker. Whether it’s being glued to our phones, drowning in impossible expectation, the never-ending work emails and meetings—the world putting its closed sign up, might nudge us (or really shove us) into looking up from our busy lives and truly nurturing the things that needed to be nurtured. 

Before we leave for Summer break, I want to ask you—what can you take away from all of this? What do you want to take away from this new pandemic world of ours, and integrate into the world many of us want to jump back into.

There are some gifts lying about in this new world of ours. Is it more gratitude for some of the things we unintentionally took for granted, is it more reflection time on what you and your families might need, is it more bonding, connecting, and playful family time that you may have been neglecting before?

This pandemic has triggered a lot of fear, frustration and uncertainty.

But I hope has also triggered time to pause, time to reflect and time to tap into what we need most. What does that look like for you?

I hope you’ll look back on the pandemic one day, and congratulate yourself for all you were able to overcome. Because we will overcome this, there are just different paths to do so. And I hope you choose the path that supports you and your loved ones in the best way possible. 

Marisa Ryan is the elementary school counselor at Chadwick School. She can be reached at mryan@chadwickschool.org.

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