Foreboding Joy

Brene Brown has talked about what she calls “foreboding joy.” It’s when you find yourself feeling joyful and enjoying the moment and then a sinking feeling creeps into your stomach and spirit. It’s the feeling that you must be forgetting something. You must be forgetting to be worried about what is going to go wrong.

And I find something battling quite a bit of it lately. The first week of school is such an incredible time of excitement and possibilities. I saw so many students who were thrilled to be with their friends, enjoying lunch, and playing at recess. I talked with teachers who were energized by the opportunities a new school year brings students. I walked into classrooms where high school teachers were building relationships with kids and engaging them in hands-on learning activities.

It was a good week. I felt joyful and happy to be a part of it.

I’m in a new role this school year as Director of a Secondary Teaching and Learning. And in the moments when I’ve been alone: during my commute, a rare moment in my office, during the walk from the parking lot into school buildings, I’ve felt a little sick.

Can I do this work? What is going to happen this school year that is bad? Can I handle it? Am I prepared? What am I forgetting? When will everyone realize I don’t really know what I’m doing?

My anxiety is going up as I write this.

We’ve all been there. New to our place of work, new to a school year, new to a grade level or subject, new to roles. And we worry about measuring up. About being good enough. About letting others down.

It’s amazing the rollercoaster of emotions just one week can bring.

So, here are some reminders to myself. I’m sharing them in case they benefit you in any way as well. And if you have more, I invite you to share your reminders in the comments below, on Twitter, or Instagram:

I am enough.

I don’t have to have all the answers.

It’s OK to do work that scares me.

When scary situations come my way this year, I don’t have to navigate them alone.

I have survived every worst day I’ve ever experienced up to this point.

When I choose joy and gratitude, I make it easier for others to choose joy and gratitude.

Calm care is a superpower.

One day at a time. One hour at a time. One moment at a time.

How people feel when they are with me is more important than anything on my to-do list.

When I take care of myself, I’m taking care of how I show up, so I’m taking care of others too.

The real work is the work I do on myself. Everything else is secondary.

Life is beautiful and short, so I won’t waste it worrying about things that I won’t even remember five years from now.

I don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.

Not being perfect doesn’t make me any less of a human being or professional.

I will see mistakes as learning opportunities and not as reflections on my worth and competence.

Relationships come first. Starting with my relationship to myself.

When I feel foreboding joy stealing the present moment from me, I will talk back and reclaim what is mine to enjoy.

What would you add?

Our schools need more joy. Emotions are contagious. And like I always remind you, Shawn Achor’s research shows that, “Our brains at positive are 31% more productive than they are at negative, neutral or stressed.”

So, when we get ourselves into a good place, we are more productive and the people around us are more likely to be productive too.

Take care of yourselves. Feel what you need to feel. And then find ways to get yourself into that beautiful space of joy and productivity this week.

We need you.

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