Finding meaning in the new year

Blame it on a new year, and hope for what 2021 holds, but I’m getting deep on you high schoolers. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and talking to students this fall on how their lives have changed since the pandemic. I have passionate actors, athletes, artists, dancers, singers, musicians(the list goes on) who have not been able to participate in the same way in the things they love. What I hear over and over is that they miss the connection. Yes, they can still do ___ (insert activity here), but the social connections are not the same. Doing improv in your room on a zoom call is not the same as on a stage with a half dozen other actors.

While we can’t make things return to normal until science does its work, I have been challenging students to really think deeply about what is important to them. Your days look different than they did pre-pandemic, give yourself some time to think. What is the highest contribution to your future you can work on now? Can you make a meaningful difference in your life and others’ lives by the pursuit of something? Maybe you’ve decided to phone bank or write letters during the election, maybe you are helping siblings with their school while your parents are working, maybe you learned how to play an instrument, maybe you got a job. (If you need guidance or ideas, I’m a great sounding board). This isn’t about a laundry list of extracurriculars for your application.

I ask my seniors as they start their application process, “what is your elevator pitch”. (And they look at me like I’m crazy). But, if you had 30 seconds to tell someone about who you are, what would you say? What is the story you are telling through your activities and the way you are spending your time? A lot of the work I do centers around goal setting-academic and personal. Have your goals changed? Have you found a new interest or are they the same?

In this time of COVID, the landscape is continually changing. No one can predict what the future holds, which is why it’s so important to do things that matter to YOU.

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