I know that 2020 has been a year of discomfort. And that’s not okay, but in reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, I was kindly reminded that some of the greatest opportunities for growing and learning come from uncomfortable situations.
When speaking to her students about vulnerability and shame, Brené warns them ahead of time, “If you’re comfortable, I’m not teaching and your’re not learning. It’s going to get uncomfortable in here and that’s okay. It’s normal and it’s part of the process” (Brown 203).
This warning made me smile because it reminded me of the supply lists for incoming students to my English I class. After typing up and printing the nice, neat lists, I would carefully (in the scariest handwriting I could muster) write “FEAR” in red ink at the top of each list.
You can only imagine the delight I experienced in seeing the eager faces and ready hands grab at the waiting lists from the holder outside my classroom and then the quick flicker of surprise as that word “FEAR” registered in their already-panicking minds.
Brené’s warning and that supply list “FEAR” followed the same train of thought. If we want to become someone new, develop a skill, or overcome a challenge, we have to accept that being uncomfortable is inevitable. How we handle our discomfort will make all the difference.
It wasn’t long before my students figured out “FEAR” was a healthy thing and that I wasn’t a complete fire-breathing dragon. They started to understand that being afraid to let themselves down or not do their best work was way scarier than any supply list AND that taking risks for the sake of learning could propel them farther than they imagined. My greatest hope for them is that they let that “FEAR” continue to fuel them on their life journeys.
As schools start up for a new year, recognize the discomfort in yourself, your family, and your schools. Be someone who rises to the challenge of change and don’t let distress get in the way of making positive things happen and beneficial lessons learned. It’s going to be a time of change, inconvenience, and vexation, but this year also provides us with possibility, advancement, and appreciation. It’s about to get uncomfortable, and that’s okay. Uncomfortable can be a good thing. Hopefully, that discomfort means we are growing, learning, and challenging ourselves to become brighter, stronger, and healthier individuals.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. After my first year of teaching, a tradition started where the sophomores came back and wrote “FEAR” on the supply lists for me. The students’ handwriting was way scarier that anything I could pen.
P.P.S. There is a big difference between discomfort because of growth and being made uncomfortable through means of intimidation, abuse, and distrust. If you find yourself in a relationship with that kind of discouragement, be brave and let the power of walking away be the end of your unpleasant situation.
Source: Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York, Penguin Random House, 2012, p. 230.