“Jay” is a very normal senior in High School. She has been looking forward to this point in her school career for years. So close, and now so very far away. Maybe never.
She began the lock down in resistance, like most of us. She shared that any other year would have been much easier to adjust, but the last few months of her senior year????
It felt like all of her hard work had been for nothing if she couldn’t celebrate these last few months of high school. After all, she had watched other seniors kick up their heels. Now it was her turn! She thought.
She was going crazy being stuck at home, unable to do the things that she loved. Cooking, baking and art had less meaning. She heard that some people were setting up virtual experiences, but her hopes and dreams wanted a full expression or nothing!
She had planned to go back to the Fire Academy, which is a week-long fire-fighting intensive. This year, it would be held in San Bernadino, a week after Spring Break. She would be a Captain. Finally!
Jay participated in Jr. Lifeguards, (which is sponsored by fire departments) for three summers and began visiting her local fire stations, doing “ride-alongs” and learning about fire fighting year round, at once-a-week meetings. She has already taken a “First Responder” class at the Junior College near her home.
Usually, in the last few months of senior year, teachers give projects that are fun. This year, she felt they had the idea that since the students had so much time on their hands, they needed more challenges. She just cannot get motivated to respond to the pressures.
That comment reminded me of an article that I had read advising us not to be hard on ourselves if we were not being productive during lock down/quarantine.
And, that reminded me of the difference between motivation and inspiration. Jay is an artist at heart. Inspiration is what excites her and unleashes her creativity.
She was inspired when she heard about the power of affirmations. They worked for a while. She was trying on meditation and it also helped, for a while.
But inspiration and meditation were wearing thin. She expressed frustration with the unknown. She said that if she could just know how long she needed to keep herself afloat, she felt that she could meet the challenge. It felt like the unknown element was making her insecure, making her lose confidence in her ability to hold up under the pressures.
Jay is beginning to feel depressed as dates for opening up our world keep getting pushed out. She is starting to feel helpless, powerless.
We chatted about the difference between motivation (a prod from behind) and inspiration (something that excites us and pulls us forward).
We chatted about other events that had been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. She has been to Burning Man and when I told her that it was switching to an online virtual event where people were going to teach, she got intrigued.
Someone is talking about teaching how to create large art installations, or cooking for a large crowd. I tracked down the contact info for her. No tickets will be sold, but donations will be accepted. What?! No rush for tickets? Right there is a huge incentive to participate. It’s historical really.
I think that appealed to her creativity. She has already had success with the garden she decided to create. She loves harvesting from her own garden and cooking for herself with vegetables that she learned how to grow! She gets to watch them grow and that is satisfying and somehow reassuring.
I mentioned how much raising Monarch butterflies is a source of constant inspiration for me. I described it a little bit. A few hours after the call, she texted me and expressed interest in raising Monarchs.
She has realized how much she has taken everything for granted, even school! She is yearning for school now. She shared that it shocked her to hear herself say that.
So many students, that she has known for many years, will be taking off for points unknown. Off to college, or working or (maybe) traveling, or going into relationships that may lead to long-term commitments. Will she be able to have meaningful closure?
Yes, there is angst for an 18 year old, on the verge of taking off into a bigger life. A much bigger unknown than most of us have ever realized.