In these challenging and altogether disruptive times from the current pandemic of SARS-CoV-2, we must endure an outbreak that many of us have not seen before. Unable to visit friends, interact with relatives, work out at the gym, or simply shop for food without wearing a mask, life has changed. We have observed the sudden flare of a virus that abruptly broke into private and public life, tested world-class healthcare facilities, and given routine to the new practice of social distancing.
Influential voices of culture as Bill Gates even stated several years ago in his widely acclaimed TedTalk that, “There’s no need to panic… but we need to get going” and announced that we were not prepared for another outbreak as much “scenario planning, vaccine research, and healthcare training” were needed. Yet, many concluded that another pandemic would arise for a future day. Following suit with the current health crisis in this pandemic, most states including our own have chosen school closure to weaken the effects of the virus.
For the Class of 2020, approximately 3.7 million high school seniors continue to experience a variety of emotions that include: sadness, anxiety, and anger. A school year which began with enthusiasm and hope for the future now becomes confronted with worry and disbelief. We can look to others to motivate us onward when we lose our own sense of flair. Personal stories of resilience have encouraged multitudes. These life narratives cause listeners to consider the strength and value of decisive actions to press forward in their journey. Recent events with a pandemic and its global footprint, alongside a gradual economic recession, are context for urgency in developing vision for resilience.
During critical seasons that demand greater personal resilience, emotional agility is needed to navigate the emotional experiences of a rapidly evolving and complex global community. Dr. Susan David, a psychologist originally from South Africa, demonstrates principles for this novel concept of emotional agility in her TedTalk and additional reflections on her show Checking In.
Research from the University of London has been able to demonstrate that emotional agility will provoke individuals to meaningfully respond to stress, make strides in job performance, reduce work-related errors, and become examples in their field. Dr. David describes this call to emotional agility as that “which enables people to approach their inner experiences in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way rather than buying into or trying to suppress them. The process isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to make big things happen in your life.”
Class of 2020, and all students affected by this pandemic, here are several important considerations in choosing resilience and establishing the building blocks of emotional agility:
Resilient individuals find and experience meaning, pursue core values, and maintain a strong capacity for perseverance in their life circumstances. Truly anyone can bounce back from hardship and problematic circumstances with just one or two of these character qualities, but resilience requires all three according to the current landscape. During times of deep recessions, resilience becomes a necessary ingredient more so than before to rebuild oneself from sinking further into despair or a greater loss of confidence. This becomes possible through vision for emotional agility.
A heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2020!!!