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RebelWell
University of Mississippi

Take Care Tuesday

Embrace a New Normal

Like many of you, a “global pandemic” was not on my 2020 Bingo card, but as nature would have it, we adapted. We began hosting Zoom meetings in suit jackets and pajama pants. We learned to enjoy the occasional, and undeniably adorable, invasion of our colleagues’ pets, and all of us formed a love-hate relationship with the mute button. But as COVID-19 restrictions lessen, the buzzing conversations around “returning to work” and “getting back to normal” have increased. Well, those phrases raise a few questions for me. For many of us, we never left work, and the work never stopped; so, are we really returning? Also, why does everyone seem so eager to go back to normal? Was “normal” really all that great to begin with or was it just familiar? With that in mind, I challenge you to reject that narrative. Reject going backwards to the normalcy of yesterday and embrace the newness that awaits in tomorrow. The following may help you do just that:

Remain Inclusive

For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic gave us a glimpse into the hardships and inconveniences associated with navigating a world that became virtually inaccessible. A journey that some of our colleagues and peers have been dealing with for years without much consideration from the rest of us. However, through creativity and ingenuity, we were able to develop the technologies necessary to continue on with reasonable mobility and comfort (automated captioning, interpreters, virtual options, various seating accommodations, etc.). Therefore, let us not abandon these inclusive and accessible measures but rather challenge ourselves to discover new, innovative ways to enhance the quality of life for many families and workers.

Connect

After over a year of distance and separation, masks and social distancing markers are being removed, and people are beginning to reemerge. While some have burst through their metaphorical cages to embrace their newfound freedom, others are hesitant to leave the safety that their cages afforded them and for good reason. However, I want to remind you that there is beauty in connectedness. Being able to relate to the world around you and participate in the small pleasures that it has to offer is a remarkable treasure in which I hope you will indulge. Join a book club. Volunteer in your community. Host a dinner party with friends. Whatever you decide, do your best to share the experience with others.

Give Grace

Renowned philosopher Susan David once said that there is something utterly inhumane about us as a people holding onto this unspoken expectation that we must continue to achieve even amongst so much illness, death, and uncertainty. Therefore, instead of striving towards the usual standards of success, let us now search for peace of mind and stability that can be accomplished by giving others as well as ourselves grace. Doing so enables us to forgive harmful behaviors and lapses in judgement made by ourselves and others. Refrain from using harsh self-judgement. Remember that people make mistakes, and that everyone is navigating this moment in time for the first time together. We are all human beings deserving of love and compassion, especially now.

Closing

As we prepare for another academic year, our focus should be on cultivating a culture of well-being on our campus, fostering community involvement through meaningful connections, and supporting students with policies and activities that aid in furthering the vision of the institution which vows to provide students with an environment that readily fosters discovery and creativity. See this crisis as an opportunity for the world to set forth on a more sustainable and equitable path that warrants resiliency against this predictably unpredictable world. Let’s move forward together.

Jazmine Kelley- Coordinator of Wellness Education for the William Magee Center for AOD and Wellness Education