New Year, New Changes

By Adam McDaniel, IPLI Mentor

Every year my family and I take a trip to Chicago after Thanksgiving for a nice, long weekend of shopping, eating, museum-hopping, and togetherness. We always stay in the same room, in the same hotel. Although there are a multitude of options for accommodations in a city like Chicago, we have enjoyed this particular location for a few reasons:

  1. It is close to everything we want to do
  2. It has a beautiful view of both State Street and Millennium Park. 
  3. It is familiar. 

That last point is essential. The beauty of familiarity is simple in scope but complex in influence on our mental state. 

There is nothing quite like the opportunity to experience something new and exciting. The thrill of the unexpected prompts our hearts to beat faster and our adrenaline to run wild. Our minds race with sensory overload at each new twist and turn offered by an experience unlike our previous endeavors. 

I have often questioned the desire of people who enjoy eating at the same restaurants all the time when there are so many options at their fingertips. Why would you not venture out with every opportunity? Why not enjoy the unexpected all the time? 

Why not?

Because it’s exhausting. 

If there is anything we have learned in the past two years, it’s that constant changes and unexpected outcomes may be exciting for a period of time. Living in a state of uncertainty is debilitating. Our bodies and minds need consistency and familiarity. 

We stay in our favorite room in our favorite hotel every year because it is comforting. Would it be fun to try new places? Of course. But it must be balanced. 

As we identify ways to support staff members through these difficult times, I hope we are cognizant of our need to provide opportunities for comfort in familiarity. Create communications that will remain consistent. Now is the time to accentuate our favorite routines. 

Unpredictability can be exciting, but change is hard. We are not conditioned to successfully live in constant change. 

We all need opportunities to relive the familiar and find comfort in reconnecting with what we know best. Take time to think back on a good time. What food do you connect to comfort? What movie could you watch and be transported to a simpler time in your life?

We don’t get enough rest and education is uniquely filled with new beginnings every year. New students, staff members, initiatives, etc. fill our schools every fall. That’s a lot of unfamiliar. Whatever it means for you, take time to enjoy the view from a restful spot and just let the comforts of familiarity provide peace this season.