By Jessie Finocchiaro (Beta Omicron, Florida Southern College)
Life is wild right now. You might have started college with a career path in mind, and considering recent events, that career might not exist in its previous form anymore. Many of us tend to plan our lives ahead of us; something about a five-year plan gives us comfort thinking about the control we have over our future. But what happens when those plans are completely interrupted, often for reasons beyond our control?
Disruptions can be like driving over a pothole, just a slight bump in the road that you glide over as you continue driving toward your destination. Sometimes that pothole gives you a flat tire, even though it didn’t look that big when you noticed it. Sometimes that pothole damages your car, and you have to get it fixed or find a new one.
As we all learn to navigate our lives through disruption, the leadership development specialist team for Alpha Chi Omega wants to remind you of a few things:
- Disruption can turn things that once brought joy into burdens. One of our team’s favorite aspects of leadership is being able to invest in others, but it can be exhausting when you do not have the energy to invest in yourself. Disruptions often consume mental energy that we do not even notice is being drained, and priorities have to shift accordingly. Sometimes, disruptions move us into “survival mode,” and that is OK.
- Give yourself permission to mourn the loss brought by disruption. While the world might seem to move on without blinking when your world is flipped upside down, it is healthy to pause and grieve what you lost from disruption.
- Surround yourself with people you know will support you through the disruptions in your life, and be there for the disruptions in their lives. Healthy relationships involve support from both people. We never fully know what others are going through, so be sure to invite them into conversation and check that they are ready for the emotional investment in the moment. We also recommend finding a therapist that you connect with to talk through things, since investing in others can be emotionally and mentally taxing.
- Disruptions can be collective or individual, public or private, temporary or permanent. They bring an uncertainty that is terrifying and leaves us yearning for “normal.” Sometimes, it is healthy to question if “normal” is worth returning to; is there justice and equity in what we are striving for, or is it just comfortable? We can learn from collective disruptions to develop our sense of empathy so that we can better understand when others approach us, sharing disruptions or experiences in their lives that might be permanent or private.
I want to encourage you to have grace with yourself and those around you. None of us knows what someone else is going through, just as no one else fully knows our experience. Approaching each other with love and a thirst for justice is one of the ways we build relationships that help us through the disruptions in life, moving forward to a better “normal” and helping each other grow as real, strong women along the way.
“When you put love out in the world, it travels, and it can touch people and reach people in ways that we never even expected.” – Laverne Cox