As One Door Closes, Another One Opens
When life throws the unexpected at you, how do you cope?
What do you do when your normal way of living is disrupted, your plans for the future are cancelled and life seems to be out of your control?
Do you sit and pray that this is not happening to you, or do you go out and actively seek an alternative path?
I truly believe the phrase, 'As one door closes, another one opens', and that there is always another path waiting for us.
Hello and welcome to the Clarity Junction podcast.
Today, I would like to address that old saying ‘As one door closes, another one opens’, and to do this I would like to use the experience that kids and young adults are facing during this uncertain time in their lives through the pandemic, and in particular how it has affected their school life. A way of life that most of us presume normal for several years of our lives as we are growing up.
As the 2019-2020 school year comes to an end here in England, UK, we begin to face an unusual summer holiday with our children and uncertain return to a new school year in September. As a Mum, I am finding that I am having to answer my kids’ questions and reassure them a little more than I did at the start of the coronavirus lock down.
Like everyone else, I don’t have all the answers, but as a Mum, it’s my role to guide my kids the best I can. As we all face continued uncertainty, I don’t want my kids looking back at this episode feeling that they were wasted months of their life. I don’t want them to think of this time as something negative that has ruined a large part of their youth. I don’t want them to carry an unnecessary burden of regret, blame, fear or frustration throughout their lives. I want them to take this experience, learn from it and remember the positive from it, so that they can take new positive life skills into their future.
My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach, inspiring women to live the life they truly want, and I am delighted that you are here with me today.
The last couple of weeks have been really strange for us as a family.
Normally, in the last few weeks of the school year we are frantically running about, trying to juggle our time as we attend many school and after-school events.
We attend concerts, prize-givings, teacher consultations, sports days, and at the same time head to the shops to stock up clothes for the summer holidays and new school uniform for the new academic year.
This year, during the pandemic, the end of term has been different, and I feel that this time has been harder on us all, emotionally, than it was at the beginning of the lock down.
During the last couple of weeks, we have celebrated my son’s birthday in a very low-key way. We have attended parent’s consultations, prize-giving and concerts ‘virtually’ through the internet. Even sports day was held virtually online.
There has been no end of term excitement.
There are no holidays to look forward to.
Everything has been cancelled, including my son’s conservation trip which he had been saving up and preparing for, for almost 2 years.
We aren’t even getting to visit our family due to lock-down restrictions.
It’s a very quiet and unusual end of term indeed.
Everyone is coping with so much and so many kids have missed out on what should have been end of term celebrations.
Those at the end of their school life, those who have been studying for years are missing out on the whole exam experience and haven’t been able to celebrate with their prom or graduation ceremony.
That may seem trivial in the whole grand scale of everything, and I know that my own kids’ school has been amazing throughout this experience, ensuring their students have felt safe, secure and supported while keeping up with online learning and as many virtual events as possible, however, to kids and to their parents, this lack of normality and celebration really has an effect.
While these events and plans are certainly less important than limiting the spread of the virus, it is still a fundamental aspect in the lives of these young people.
These events are the rewards for getting up in the morning and going to school, whether virtually or in person. These events provide a conclusion to their academic year, a permission slip that they can now go and relax for a few weeks before returning, inspired to start again – whether that may be another school year, further education or their first position of employment.
That ‘rite of passage’ has been denied to them, however, and it is only natural that they feel a mixture of emotions. They have missed out. They have lost something that should have been theirs.
For many kids and young adults, this will be their first time of experiencing a confusing situation in their life.
They will have experienced excitement of not needing to attend school each day, to the realisation that they miss their friends and the support of their teachers. They will have enjoyed the freedom that not having a strict timetable can bring, but the binds that living in close confinement with other family members, 24/7 can have on their ability to express themselves, and feel enclosed, rather than having open space to escape to.
They will have experienced fear, disappointment, sadness, confusion, uncertainty and a lack of motivation.
For many, however, they will also have learned new skills that they wouldn’t normally do until older. They may have discovered the beauty of good time management and planned their studies so that they could have more free time, while still getting their work done.
They may have discovered a new hobby or found time to discover what really makes them happy.
Perhaps they have looked at their old habits and realised that they would like to eat better, learn to cook or have discovered an interest in exercise.
Many will have realised that there is more than one way to live life and become more aware of their own desires for the future.
The experiences taken from this time may not have been all negative.
This is why I wanted to share this example with you today.
I always believe that no matter the situation, there is always an alternative way to look at it, and if you seek that door, you will find it.
As I was chatting with my eldest son about the return to school in September, which will be his last year, he told me that he wishes this whole pandemic had happened a few years ago or after he had left school, as he really enjoys school and he is now missing out on so much. He is coping with missing out on his trip, missing out on his music groups, missing out on his karate, but he still wishes it wasn’t happening. He wants, as we all do, for it all to return to normal. But it can’t.
This is how many of us cope during stressful and uncertain days. We long for a reality that we can’t have.
Many of us get stuck in this thought and this is when our life starts to get de-railed. We go round in circles trying to find a solution so that we can have the same as before, but deep down we know that things have changed, and we must adapt to it.
Adapting is not easy, however. Adapting means embracing change and acquiring a new way of thinking.
When we have a set way of living, and we are comfortable with this, we fight change. We insist that there must be a way to get back our ‘old life’, but frankly, in a lot of situations, this just can’t be done.
This sounds devastating and it will feel like that for a while, but this is the time when you need to have blind faith.
Blind faith in yourself, and in the energy around you.
I speak from experience. I have faced many life-changing times over the years, and when I was young, I used to fight them, pretend they weren’t happening and try to live the same life.
All that did was make things worse. I was fighting reality. It took me a while to recognise the pattern that when something in my life stopped me in my tracks, I needed to resource another way forward while embracing the new situation.
If you can’t change the situation – just as you can’t change this pandemic, you must embrace it and work with it to the best of your ability and seek out the best way forward for you.
When chatting with my son, I shared my way of thinking on how I face times of change, like these. I wanted him to know that it’s OK to feel this disappointment and loss. It’s OK to wish things were different, but to perhaps start to think that this whole life-event was something that was meant to happen, and from this event, what can he learn and how can he become a better person from it. What lessons can he take into his future? What positives have happened that mean that his future has changed for the better? What doors have opened for him – or could open for him? What new exciting experiences can he have instead?
If we can accept that the experiences that we face are part of our destiny, whether we like it or not, perhaps we can step aside from our negative emotions quicker and learn to work out a new, more compatible future, without the burden of regret, blame, anger or frustration.
It’s not easy, but it is possible – you must hold on to that blind faith in yourself – you are a survivor. You’ve got this far, overcome so much, so that makes you a survivor.
So, look to learning from the situation you are in, and be active in focusing on finding the positive path and taking it. The path may seem completely different from the one before, but if you are still seeking the same outcome, then you know you are on the right track.
For example, if you have lost your job during this time, the key outcome is to find a new path to earn money. The rest will fall into place once you have an income once more. Don’t deny opportunity because it doesn’t mirror what you already have. Take each step as it presents itself and ensure your basics are covered. Remember you are just looking for a starting point – not an end point.
Face the hard decisions and challenges, as you know those are the ones that you need to act on, then once you do this, you have accepted and created a new way forwards, and your stress will start to lift. You can start this new path with a clear and fresh approach.
Just don’t give up. No matter how bad things may seem, keep going.
In time, you’re ‘new way’ will become the ‘normal way’ once more, and you will have the additional knowledge that you are able to make changes to this path when you want to, or, indeed, cope with making changes when you need to.
That’s all for this episode.
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Thanks for listening.
Bye for now and keep being awesome!