13 January 2022

“Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.”

Just when we thought things were getting better, they got worse again. Christmas and New Year’s plans changed or cancelled, time with our loved ones, and activities to fill up our time during the winter-all gone in the blink of an eye.

Family members and friends post or send videos, pictures, and sayings so that we can all be reminded of how fortunate we really are. We are reminded that at least we have technology so we can facetime with people across the world, watch Netflix, and attend school online.

People much older than us have lived through wars, famine, and pandemics and they have not only survived, but have become stronger for it.

Are these survival stories and comparisons helpful or are they just making us feel worse and even somewhat guilty for complaining about the fact that we are being forced to stay home, limit our contacts, and wear masks?

To be honest, I’m not sure I know the answer. Everytime, I see a video or read a post, I think about how lucky I am, but at the same time, I’m tired and feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot. I’m sure that many students are feeling the same way. They just want to hang out with friends, attend school and complain about it, play sports, and have fun. And they deserve it.

According to the Harvard Business Review, toxic positivity is the assumption that despite a person’s emotional pain and turmoil, they should only have a positive mindset.

Dr. Zuckerman says that “the inherent problem with this concept is that we assume that if a person is not in a positive mood then they are somehow wrong, bad, or inadequate. The problem is that, when we invalidate someone else’s emotional state — or in this case, when we tell someone that feeling sad, angry, or any emotion that we consider ‘negative’ is bad — we end up eliciting secondary emotions inside of them like shame, guilt, and embarrassment.”

It truly is okay to not feel okay and a negative response to the situation we are living in IS completely normal.

Young people are very resilient, but they also have valid concerns and feelings that need to be recognized and heard. I’m actually not too worried for their futures because they are armed with new and creative ideas on how to help the world and society. I am concerned for the present moment because we need to ensure that we are listening to them, acknowledging their needs, and helping if necessary.

I think we all miss life before the pandemic when people were friendlier and life could be spontaneous. One might take a road trip for the day just over the border and let the route dictate where one may stay and eat. Now, that is not possible. Everything needs to be planned out down to the moment of testing and arrival, and one must not forget to download the arrivecan app!

I may just be in a slump and have the January blues… at least that’s what I hope. I know my blogs are usually upbeat, but it’s also important to acknowledge an off day and be ok with it.

So, for those of us having a hard day, here are some things to remember:

  • A bad day does not equal a bad life
  • Feelings are not facts, but all feelings are valid (especially important to acknowledge with adolescents)
  • Nothing stays the same (positive or negative)
  • We are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help
  • Focus on the things we can control

Today, I saw the most beautiful sky around 4:45pm and I thought “Wow! The days are getting longer already! The moment made me realize that I have to learn to live with the existence of this virus and that there won’t be a specific end date. Instead of being scared, I should focus on all of the things I can still do and look forward to them.

I am glad I have Netflix, but most of all I’m glad that I have a support system, a meaningful career, and the ability to realize that today was just a bad day.

There’s always tomorrow…

this article

Erika signature

Director of Student Services
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