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Sitting in disappointment…and then moving forward!

Submitted by jreid on

I think I can speak on behalf of 99.9% of our students and faculty who, upon hearing of the cancellation of the Junior School’s planned ski day on Monday, were disappointed. (The 0.1% were relieved, but only because they were really nervous about skiing for the first time!). Ski day is a highly anticipated annual event that is often seen as a rite of passage – for many students, it is when they learn to ski for the first time and develop a love for the sport. The event is also held on the Monday before March Break, so it tends to be that impactful community event that boosts energy and excitement before embarking upon our well-deserved break.

There was no denying the reason for the cancellation. Warm temperatures leading up to the event made parts of the ski hill a muddy mess. Despite acknowledging that the early onset of spring conditions were behind the cancellation, the disappointment was no less raw and palpable. Upon arriving at school on Monday morning, students had to switch their mindset to a day of learning rather than a day of fun in the snow. They had to inevitably sit in their disappointment. And they did, but only for a moment. And then they moved on.

To “sit in one’s emotions” is a relatively new buzz phrase that has become mainstream among therapists, self-care authors and even educators. When hearing the phrase myself, I conjure up images of a person, seated passively on a chair, hunched over with face in hands, surrounded by thought bubbles depicting the range of emotions felt. Essentially, sitting in one’s emotions is exactly this (but maybe without the hunch). Quietly taking a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling, to truly feel the uncomfortable emotions within, without wishing them away or wallowing in them. To legitimately accept how you're feeling in that moment. Easier said than done of course because, as many of us adults have learned in life, the cultural message has often been that feelings of fear, sadness, anger and worry are bad and need to be fixed. However, there is evidence to the contrary, suggesting that by being aware of our emotions we can be more adept at talking about our feelings, we can be better prepared to either resolve or avoid conflicts and then we are more able to move past difficult feelings.

And this is just what occurred on Monday. As I made my morning homeform rounds, I heard teachers speaking with their students, asking them how they deal with disappointment, how they felt when they heard the news and what strategies they can share with others to manage disappointment. Our students sat in their disappointment, shared with each other, listened to the vulnerability in what others were feeling and then, just like that, they moved into the first period of classes, ready to tackle the day of learning.

Yes, there was a slight tone of disappointment in the air on Monday morning, but it was quickly replaced by the excitement of a spontaneous non-uniform day, by an extra hour of recess, by the anticipation of a short week and then dismissal for a two-week March Break. Life is good in the Junior School. That doesn’t mean it is always easy, or free of stress, or disappointment, but it is a collective good when we are all working through the ups and downs of our days together.

I want to wish families a wonderful March Break, with time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect. Be sure to sit in the emotions of the break, to savour the time spent with family and then be ready to move back to life post-break with energy for the remainder of the school year. I look forward to seeing students when they return from the break for the start of a busy, productive spring term!