• Eydie Balsam

Looking for certainty in times of uncertainty

Happy Tuesday!

Last week I posted about the movies my students listed as part of their "favorites" in our brainstorming work. It got me thinking about other ways I can learn more about them and help them come up with "their story" as we move deeper into the writing process. Hence, the Tuesday Challenge was born.

Each Tuesday, I post a challenge question for them, if they submit an answer, their name is entered into a raffle. Last week I asked them what they had learned about themselves during this period of quarantine. Their answers moved me. I got answers anywhere from I love avocado toast to I learned that I have spent so much time revolving around a life I should be living, that I never had the time to do things that I used to love to do like art and reading to My friends are everything, just their presence in my life makes everything better.

It is clear that on the one hand, these kids are missing their friends and routine deeply, some of them are discovering things about themselves they never realized before. This week I am challenging them to think about how they react In times of uncertainty,

I often say that the college process is a time when students and parents search for certainty in a time that is quite often uncertain. This statement is more accurate than ever. To me, the unknown is a bit scary. One thing that helps me in times of uncertainty is to remind myself to focus on the things I can control and to let go of the things I can not. I keep a journal next to my bed, and when I feel as if I am moving into an area of uncertainty, I do this exercise - believe me, it works.

a) make a list of things you know

I woke up hungry

The sun is out, I will make time to be outside today

I have a to-do list a mile long

My kids are devastated that camp was just canceled

I am going to zoom with my college roommates tonight, and I can't wait.

b) make a list of things you don't know

What I should tackle first on my to-do list, when should I finish painting that last bit of the basement wall?

When will the masks I ordered for my kids come?

what are my kids going to do now that camp is canceled?

When will I be able to see my students in person again?

Will I be right? Will my daughter or students go back to school in the fall

c) of the things you can not control - make a note of why you can't control it and a rational way of thinking the uncertainty.

what I should tackle first on my to-do list

this is an easy one - I will do the hardest one first - (great suggestion one of my mentors once gave me - do the hardest thing first - then the rest seem easy to tackle)

when will the masks I ordered for my kids come

​​​​​​​I can not control this - all I can do is track the shipment, which says it will be here Friday - even though it was estimated to be here today - but there is nothing I can do about it, so I put a sticky note on my computer to LET IT GO! as a reminder not to check the UPS tracking 5 times a day!

what are my kids going to do now that camp is canceled

​​​​​​​No clue - but like with every loss, I am going to let them mourn for a bit, but not for too long. I can not control that camp was canceled, nor can I control my kids' feelings about this loss - but I can give them space to be sad and then offer suggestions and structure for new opportunities.

when will I be able to see my students in person again

​​​​​​​I wish I knew the answer to this. I wish I had an exact date - but I know that the time is coming. With the right precautions put in place, my 6-foot long conference table awaits us sitting across from each other. So I am stockpiling extra wipes/hand sanitizers and masks - focusing on things I can control!

Will I be right? Will my daughter or students go back to school in the fall

​​​​​​​I hope so. I am a glass 3/4s full kind of girl. While like you, I need to wait until the announcements officially come out from my daughter's school I am encouraged by the news of other school's decisions. Her school said they would announce by July 1 what their plan is. So there is not much I can do until then. And since I can not control the outcome (the President of the school is not asking my opinion :) ), I will focus on my to-do list and paint that last piece of the basement wall!

I can't wait to see what my students come up with. What would be on your list?


Eydie Balsam


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