Our guest blogger and school counselor, Christa Marvenko-Athas, has some advice as we move into a summer of uncertainty.
We have been living and coping with a pandemic for over two months now, something I never thought I would need the emotional or literal tools for. I am constantly being asked “how are you doing?” I often answer, “up and down”, but a better answer is, “I am doing my best.” As we come to the end of the school year, we have encountered many losses to grieve. We continue to try to find our footing on ground that keeps moving as we try to stabilize.
When change and transitions occur, we require a period of practice and consistency to re-stabilize and function optimally; there have been few constants in the last months except inconsistency. We have had to invent and re-invent life and the way we live, work, and play, trying our best to find a rhythm that keeps changing. Many of us may still be in the process of trying to navigate finding the physical and literal tools needed to accommodate the change and expectations.
I hear from people they are worn out, tired, shattered, fragile, depressed, tearful, anxious, distracted, defeated. I also hear from others who say they are doing well; they have found a way to press on and feel a sense of success in their coping. Some are measuring themselves against others, as well as against internal expectations, ultimately feeling lazy for not accomplishing more, with the internal dialog being “since we are at home and have all this extra time.” Some are expecting better performance from others as well as of themselves.
If I were to give myself a grade for performance over the last couple months, I would give myself a C- ; not at all what I am used to as a performance grade, as I am a bit of a perfectionist. I can really get down on myself for that performance. However, I must ask myself, what standard am I measuring against? What is the constant in a pandemic? What have my performances been in past pandemics?! We are all constantly reaching into our toolbox of coping tools; some days they work well and some days maybe not so much.
Kindness, patience, empathy, and understanding are in high demand and are essential tools in the coping toolbox. We need to offer these to ourselves and to one another more than ever right now. We need to remind ourselves that we are all doing our best, end of sentence. In this uncertain state of affairs, our best is our best, not to be held to any standard or other person’s best.
As we move into a summer of uncertainty, we can establish perhaps one constant; be kind, loving, forgiving, and understanding to self and others, all doing our best.
Christa Marvenko-Athas is the school counselor at the Waldorf School of Baltimore. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing psychotherapy and counseling services to adults, adolescents, children, couples, families, and groups for more than 25 years. To learn more about Christa, visit her website: https://christamarvenkoathas.com/