Professional Development

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Diving Into the Unknown

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 11:02

Running head-first into the new school year can be a stressful time for the whole family. See what Erika Petrelli, The Leadership Program's Vice President of Leadership Development, has to say about confronting the unknown and the fear of "what if."

And just like that—it's back-to-school time! My children headed back to the classrooms and hallways and homework and bell schedules on August 7th.

Back-to-school is such a thrilling time for my kids. The excitement of supply shopping, the anticipation of what teacher they will get, the mad dash to get in the last of the summer sleepovers and adventures, the combination of dread and thrill of the unknown. This is where my son's made-up-word, "exscareded," comes in real handy.

Because it is "exscary": It's exciting and scary all at once.

Especially this year, for me. Because they now are going to two different schools, ride two different buses and are on two different schedules. My daughter, as a new intermediate student, has her own locker and moves between classrooms. We've just upped the back-to-school ante here.

As we approached the coming school year, I found myself getting swept up in the "what ifs."

What if he gets scared? What if they don't like their teachers? What if someone is mean to her? What if they feel overwhelmed? What if he gets confused? What if she gets lost? What if they feel sad? What if his crush doesn't like him back? What if she gets left out? What if they don't understand? What if she feels pressured? What if he gets bullied? What if they forget to get off the bus? What if I forget to pack their lunch? What if they lose their folder? What if they go to the wrong place after school?

What if they... What if I ... What if he ... What if she ... What if, what if, what if?

Because the unknown is indeed a scary place, the "what ifs" are an easy place to get lost and feel trapped in.

But I always tell my son not to get swept away by the "what ifs" because they aren't very helpful at all, are they? I remind him that those moments of uncertainty take away from the "right nows."

So I'm not going to let the "what ifs" dominate. Instead, I'm going to focus on the right now and the remarkable courage that my children are showing, and the courage that every other student in the world setting foot into a new classroom this fall is showing. I'm going to hug and kiss them and send them off on their glorious new adventure that is the 2018 – 2019 school year. Full of unknowns ...

How scary.

But how exciting.

As a parent or guardian, it's so important to not let your own "what ifs" keep your children away from the fear and excitement of the unknown that only they can navigate, in the end.

I might do well to turn that advice onto myself, too.

So what happens when I've got my own unknowns looming or I'm feeling the "what ifs" creep into other areas of my life? If I have an "exscareded" moment?

Well, I'm going to honor the scared and nourish the excited and dive right on in.

How can you dive in—with "exscareded-ness"—to the unknown today, and encourage others to join you?

Erika Petrelli is a speaker, educator, blogger and mother. She has been in the field of education for more than 15 years and currently exercises her dynamic education experience as The Leadership Program's Vice President of Leadership Development.

Image courtesy of Erika Petrelli.