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When Chaos Roils Our World, We Must Embrace the Changes

By Tomeka Wilcher

As we work to understand and navigate the mighty challenges of 2020, many of us have experienced an inpouring of emotions that can be overwhelming at times.

One emotion that has antagonized most of us since the onset of the pandemic is the feeling of uncertainty resulting from the changes COVID-19 has brought to our personal and professional lives. As the familiar fades away, our vulnerabilities become evident.

In our lives we are teachers, researchers, coaches, and colleagues; some of us are parents, caretakers, spouses or partners. These roles that we knew so intimately and moved within so effortlessly before COVID have suddenly become more demanding, unclear and chaotic. Anxiety, frustration, doubt and fatigue sometimes plague us.

Although the pandemic experience has been intense, each day we smile and work to exemplify strength and balance for those who depend on us. It isn't always easy, and some days we wear a mask (under our COVID mask) to hide our emotions until we realize we are not alone in our isolation and suffering. We realize there is solidarity in knowing that we are in the middle of a metamorphosis. It is uncomfortable and it is scary, but we cannot allow fear or negative emotion to cripple who we are. Every day we must embrace the challenges we face.

Of course, we still have those "breathing in a brown bag" moments, but we can make a conscious effort to reflect, encourage, and remain hopeful, even in uncertain times. We can embrace the change around us and within us and say ...

To the scholars and researchers who feel unproductive, you are being too hard on yourself. Your curiosity is intact, as is your talent.

To the teachers trying to be flexible and show resilience, you are amazing.

To the parents, caretakers, spouses and partners who feel as if you are not doing enough, you are cherished.

To those who feel like imposters, have faith because you are strong.

To those questioning your own abilities, JUST DON'T!

To those who feel unappreciated, please know you are needed.

To those who feel tired, frustrated, angry and overwhelmed, step away, say no and breathe. Then tell someone.

To those who feel like crying or screaming, JUST DO IT and then move on!

To those who realize there are those around you who need a friend or an ally, reach out.

At the Center for Faculty Development, we recognize your hard work and benefit from your positive energy. Thank you for all you've done and continue to do during the pandemic to practice empathy and the art of listening. Sometimes that means being kind to yourself and listening to your own inner voice. During the pandemic, our many roles may have changed, but we have grown in the process, becoming more adaptable and creative as scholars, teachers and colleagues.

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