For the first time in writing this blog, I come to you from my school site. We’re not all back yet, not even close, but steps are being taken. Up to 28% of our students will be on our campus for the last two months of the school year, most teachers and staff members are back, and it’s now officially spring! The weather is going to slowly start to get warmer, longer days, and baseball nearly upon us. We still have a ways to go to full normalcy, but things feel pretty nice right now compared to where we were at. Sure, we’re not allowed to have one on one meetings indoors with students right now, and probably not for the rest of this school year. But we’re allowed to meet outside if any students wish to do so.
Right now, I am in a glass half full approach. Yes, I definitely took some time to mourn the things I will miss about working from home. I felt selfish about that at first as we all know that it is best for our students to be on campus and that safely reopening schools is important for a wide variety of reasons. So then I felt guilty about missing anything from home. But after a few days I was able to get out of the funk when I reminded myself that it is ok to simultaneously be happy that schools are reopening and that we’re a part of that, while also being able to acknowledge things we liked about working from home that we will miss.
I loved getting a little more sleep in the morning. In the last year I’ve only paid for one oil change. For some that might not be a significant accomplishment, but I do generally try to go every 5,000 miles as they recommend for my particular car. In a normal
school year I’d say I’m going every three months with my hour each way commute. And of course, there’s just something really refreshing and nice about drinking a home brewed cup of coffee. I’m not personally harvesting the beans or going through that process, but I do whole bean and grind them at home. So once I have that cup of coffee, that first sip of the warm stuff just makes me feel like I earned it much more so than stopping at a coffee shop in the morning on the way to the school. And despite living in a one bedroom apartment and having to share limited work space, I really enjoyed working in close proximity to my wife and getting to take lunch breaks together.
I imagine for most of us we will be more ecstatic than not about things opening back up. I can’t wait to sit out at a baseball game this summer with a cold beer. I am definitely more happy than not to see normalcy slowly come back. But it can be a very important mental health process to acknowledge the things we’ll miss, as long as we know that it’s not a selfish act to do so. After all, while we might like saving money by not commuting, none of us would advocate to keep learning remotely just to spend less on gas. That would start to tilt the scales towards selfish. It’s like lottery tickets. Spending a few dollars on tickets every so often has been recognized by mental health experts as being potentially therapeutic. Our individual odds of winning are very slim, but we allow ourselves to daydream a little bit about what we would do if we win. It could be paying off family member’s debts, buying a home, taking a dream vacation, whatever. All things that let us relax for a little bit, and definitely not selfish to drop $10 on them every few weeks. Of course, it moves into selfish territory if finances are tight at home and you start dropping say, $50 a week on tickets.
For me personally this last year has been challenging on that mental health aspect. I’ve been fortunate that most of my life has been pretty solid in that regard, but this past year has been a whirlwind of things to have to process about the world and the
state of affairs, not to mention just how much time that was previously put aside for social activity has led to a greater degree of personal introspection than usual. I have found myself having to be more conscientious of taking care of my mental health, whether it be journaling or meditation or whatever I need on a given day. And the feeling of being down in the dumps for a few days when I was thinking about the things I’d miss about working from home played into that a bit, before I realized that it’s ok to think about that.
I realize that nothing I wrote about here is related to college admissions. Society reopening will bring a range of emotions. Hopefully more good than not, but it is a significant event. And sometimes taking a little time to think about ourselves when big things happen can make us feel selfish, especially when we are in a field that is so focused on helping and uplifting others. As we begin to transition from one type of busyness to another type of busyness, I implore you to not lose sight of taking care of yourselves. It’s not selfish to give ourselves a little self-care and to make sure we’re living internally with the types of vibes we want to give off. We’re no good to our students if we’re no good to ourselves.