Graduates of 2020, it is understandable that this year has been nothing like you had expected. Many of you have dreamed of the day you would walk that stage, collect your diploma, and move on to new adventures. Who would have thought that the graduates of 2020 would find themselves in the middle of a worldwide crisis? a global pandemic? This year has been something none of us predicted and we are still wading through the waters of a “new normal.”
Not all is lost however. When life gives you lemons…and all that. There are some key lessons you can learn from during times of crisis that will build your resilience for future challenges.
Life Lessons Born of a Pandemic: To the Graduates of 2020
The importance of Discipline and Routine
During this pandemic it has been hard for even us adults to stick to a daily routine throughout the day. Trying to complete schoolwork at home has been a challenge for many with so many distractions, including all the snack food, that derail your best intentions. One important lesson we can learn is just how important it is to stay disciplined by setting daily goals for yourself to complete. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” meaning that if you set mini-goals for yourself along the way and work to regularly accomplish the larger task in smaller chunks, you are more likely to be successful.
How to stay Organized
Organization goes hand in hand with discipline. In order to accomplish your goals it is important that you have systems in place to keep you focused. Whether you are heading off to Jr. High, High School, or University in the Fall, my best teacher advice is to find a way to organize yourself that meets your personal needs. This might be a fun notebook or agenda or an app on your phone or ipad to keep track of assignments and due dates. It could be a personalized folder or binder also. Whatever you choose, find a system that works for you! If you are graduating from university, find new ways that help you to stay organized in the next steps in your career. Whatever you choose, let it be a part of bringing joy to your day.
Adapt and be Flexible
Things seem to continue to change on the daily during this pandemic. We have sometimes received conflicting advice about what is best and how to proceed in the safest way. The important lesson here is to recognize that this often happens in life as well. As you continue to grow and learn your minds will open to new ways of doing things that might conflict with what you previously thought was best. Be open to this new learning, embrace change, and know that in the end, the more flexible you can be in your thinking, the more resilient you will become.
The Importance of Wellness
Taking care of yourself and your own mental health is so important at this time. Look for the simple moments in every day that bring you joy and fill your spirit. Surround yourself with people that make you smile. If you need additional support, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend or a trusted confidante. If it all gets too much there is no shame is reaching out for professional help as well. Finding a neutral party to discuss what this time has meant for you is worth the investment in time and money.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
If this pandemic has taught us anything it’s how important it is to connect with others. Choose to keep people by your side who build others up, who are generous and kind, and look for the good in this world. Choose people who challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone just a little. Choose people who make you better.
Think of the things that you miss doing now that you’ll be able to do again in the future. Write them down and put them in a jar. As things begin to re-open, pull a piece of paper out of your jar and make some time to go do that one activity. It will remind you to be grateful for the small and the big moments still to come and just how lucky we are to live in a world that has so many freedoms.
To the graduates of 2020, I hope you take the lessons learned from this challenging time and use them to become stronger, more resilient versions of your current self. This will serve you well in the future. To the parents reading this post, be the example of resilience you want for your children. Model the behavior you wish to see. They will be so much better for it.
My hope is that if you are reading this, you will look back on this strange time and be able to find the joy in the simple moments. Life does not always deliver what we expect but it always provide us the lessons we need to learn.