Finding Balance and Peace

The postsecondary search and application process is meant to be reserved as a time for reflection, growth, maturity, and self-discovery for our students. Unfortunately, many of our teenagers face unrealistic expectations and experience extreme stress, anxiety, and depression. Having open and honest dialogue with students about the battles has become a core part of school counseling and admissions/orientation/advising programs around the world. As our students face barriers, we as secondary and postsecondary leaders do everything we can to stand alongside them through the trenches. We offer support and guidance in times of need, and often shelter them from the pain they fear. But sometimes, we forget the burden that takes on us and our colleagues.

As we help our students transition through a pivotal phase in their life, the ups and downs they face, we often forget about the challenges we face along the way. All too often I have conversations with professionals on both sides of the desk who are feeling the pressures of balancing work and life. The source of this stress often comes from our investment emotionally in everything we do. Our passion to help others as they seek to find purpose in the next phase of their life. The ever changing roles and responsibilities of our jobs. Listening to the stories and trauma our students face but never truly processing how that affects us in our daily lives. Sydeny Jensen refers to this as “secondary trauma” in her TED talk.

We all share a similar passion; to help students succeed in any possible way. We can’t always assume 17 and 18 years olds in crisis will be able to handle themselves, so why should we expect all staff who are working with those students to process this weight on their own? We should learn to be empathetic when colleagues are having a bad day. We can be non-judgemental when someone takes a sick day because they are feeling beat down, physically, emotionally or mentally. It isn’t always our verbal response that makes people feel better, it’s often the feeling of connection. A professional’s ability to recognize colleagues' emotions takes vulnerability, but it can often lead to a healthier and more positive working environment.

As we near Spring Break, with warmer weather, senior decisions and hopefully showers of deposits, please remember to take care of yourself and your colleagues. Offer support to those that need it, and keep on guiding. Happy Spring!

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