Things you can control

posted 5 November 2016 by Lisa Meloncon

I wish I could say something profound to help alleviate the stress and anxiety that a lot of us are feeling. I wish I could find the words that would assure everyone that everything is going to be ok. I wish I could figure out how to care less. But I can’t do any of those.

things-that-matter-things-you-can-control The life of the mind is real. Thus, it makes it hard to separate our work lives, our personal lives, and the world we live in. We’ve been trained to see those things as linked and then to critically examine them. And when you’re left feeling totally helpless because there is so little outside of your control, well, there is some stress associated with that.

One of my most favorite things about this job, and particularly my involvement in #womeninTC, is that I have had the opportunity to talk to so many of you, to really get to know you. The number of emails or calls I get from folks needing to talk does not faze me. Instead, it is the gift of community and I am incredibly honored that you trust me enough to reach out. That is what this community is for. But in small sample of folks I’ve talked to this term, I can tell you that this term has been one with increased stress. It seems the anxiety and fears about our interconnected worlds have reached epic proportions. And no matter what happens in the election next week (and the many other unjust and mind boggling events going on), it seems those fears and anxieties are not going to immediately dissipate.

So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the ideas about what matters and what I can actually control. The little spot in the middle—whether we want to admit it or not—is probably as true as anything. There’s only so much that we really do have control over. I’ve been thinking through ways to regain a semblance of that control. So I’ve made sure that I’ve considered those things I’m grateful for; I’ve made sure to practice self-care and surrounding myself with those people that matter; I’ve worked at “paying it forward” in a number of ways important to me; I’ve worked on projects that bring me joy. All of these small orientations have helped me feel as though I’m in that middle spot.

That’s what I wanted to remind us about—to focus on those things we can control. One of those things is our own reactions, which is reflected in how we choose to live and participate in the various and numerous communities to which we belong. I recently had a conversation with a brand new graduate student in the field. I was put on the spot when asked what would be the number one piece of advice I would give. My response, “Be kind.” This kindness is a form of caring and higher education can never has too much of that!

Today and in the coming days, be kind to yourself and be kind to others. It’s a tough world out there but kindness is certainly something that sits in the middle of things that matter and things we can control.