“At the end of each day, I am going to be okay with the hard parts. I am not going to pretend that the negative emotions are not there. They are part of this journey, but not its final destination.”

As we go through this pandemic together, I am guessing that on many occasions you have been asked, “how you are doing?” Oftentimes, this is a simple question to begin a conversation. Sometimes, it is a question the person truly wants to know the answer to. They want to know how you are doing and if you are okay. If you are like me, however, your answer is always the “right” answer. You don’t want to unload on the person all that you are going through. You want to be positive. You want to be upbeat. You want to be encouraging. So you give a short and upbeat response and quickly move onto other topics.

But there is a problem with that. When everyone is going around with smiles on their faces and pretending that everything is okay, it makes us feel even more isolated. You might feel like everyone else is doing great and you are the only one who is struggling. This makes it even harder. You feel even more alone.

So I am not going to give the “right” answer this time. I am going to remove the smiley mask. I am going to answer the question with honesty. So how am I doing?

I am tired. I am disappointed. I am discouraged. I am angry. I am afraid. I am stressed. I am lonely. I am uncertain. I am defensive. I am worried. I am restless. I am impatient. I am anxious. I am sad.

The crazy thing is that in one simple day I can have some or all of these emotions bubble to the surface at one point or another.

As we talked about last week, an important step we need to take during this pandemic is to let ourselves grieve. To allow ourselves to start the important process of accepting the loss we are facing and then begin working through it. If not, we can get stuck and stay focused on the pain and loss and not move onto the acceptance and hope.

I think we need to do the same with the emotions we are facing during this pandemic. If we allow ourselves to accept and acknowledge what we are feeling, and give grace to others and ourselves, we can move on and not get “stuck.”

We as human beings are complex. In that complexity there are some strange things. For me, one of the strange things is that even though I can feel many negative emotions in a single day, I can also feel many positive emotions.

So I am going to answer the question again with honesty. How am I doing?

I am encouraged. I am grateful. I am lucky. I am loved. I am cared for. I am optimistic. I am inspired. I am challenged. I am proud (of Dalat). I am safe. I am confident.

I truly believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. Yes, there will still be difficult days ahead. We will still face disappointment and loss. But each day we are a little closer to the end of this struggle, a little closer to a day not too far in the future when this will be behind us.

So at the end of each day, I am going to be okay with the hard parts. I am not going to pretend that the negative emotions are not there. They are part of this journey but not its final destination. When I do that, then I am able to let the positive emotions be my final destination. Where I land. Where I stay. And for that reason, in the midst of all of this, my answer to the question is also I am hopeful.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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