September is my birthday month and it’s arrival is usually met with great joy. I love celebrating my birthday, gathering with friends, pausing to acknowledge how I’ve grown over this trip around the sun. I love the excitement of the new school year and beginning to feel the change in the seasons. Crisp mornings, leaves beginning to turn, and hot cups of tea in the evening all feel so good.
This year, I spent all summer dreading the arrival of September. With every pandemic planning meeting I sat in, I kept thinking…we are surely going to realize that this is all a terrible idea, right? We kept planning, and September finally arrived.
Yesterday was the first day of classes for students (I don’t teach until Monday) and there was a lot that went well. There were also a lot of things we just hadn’t thought of. Despite all our planning over the summer, we are very much figuring this out as we go along. Generally speaking, higher ed isn’t built to be highly flexible or responsive to individual needs, but that’s what we are attempting to do.
Getting to Know My Anxiety
I’ve learned a lot about anxiety this year. I know the ebbs and flows of my anxiety throughout the day, I know the conversations that increase it and the practices that release it. I know where it shows up in my body and the ways it existed before the pandemic that I didn’t see as anxiety. Most importantly, I’ve learned to accept that it is something that just comes along with being in the middle of a global pandemic and quite possibly the collapse of our democracy.
What I’m not entirely sure of sometimes is if what I’m experiencing right now is anxiety or righteous anger. It’s likely both/and. Just as I’ve learned to name and understand my anxiety, I will need to do the same for my anger.