The class of 2021 is of special significance to me; this class is the first group with LM (of many, I hope) that I have been able to watch grow in its entirety over the course of four years together. And they were a trapeze bar for me.
Have you ever heard the parable of the trapeze?
It resonated with me, seventeen years ago, when I graduated from college and embarked on my teaching career. My mindset then was much like yours now—sadness for the end of an era, anticipation for a new adventure, and absolute terror that I didn’t have all of THE ANSWERS. (THE ANSWERS is this expectation that a person has to know everything as it applies to every situation which is baloney. Nobody has THE ANSWERS.)
Every time I encounter a major change in my life, my mind drifts back to this parable. It starts like this: “sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between the trapeze bars.” You are currently clinging to the trapeze bar of your high school career. Some days it’s harder to hang on to that bar than others; maybe that math midterm made your hands sweaty, causing your grip to slip. Or maybe you nailed that Science Olympiad exam, and your grasp isn’t strenuous.In fact, the trapeze bar feels natural, like an extension of your body.
Soon, another trapeze bar is going to appear. You have to release your hold of the current bar to grab onto the new one. And you are going to experience “space in between,” a transitional unknown that incites an array of feelings: dread, panic, anxiety, adrenaline, and exhilaration. This transition is absent of comfort from your trapeze bar; only the thrust of your efforts and experiences can hurdle you to the next bar.
Don’t be nervous because you have spent the last year in uncertainty. You sacrificed seeing friends and family, maybe your last summer of camp, applied to colleges you weren’t allowed to visit, committed to jobs that may have fallen through, and participated in clubs and sports that weren’t allowed to compete. But still you defied gravity. You masked and you marched. You remained flexible and resilient. You can handle anything.
As you travel from one trapeze bar to the next, I hope you are building a safety net beneath you with gratitude, mistakes, growth, risks, acceptance and introspection. Always rely on this net as you depart from a place of comfort and venture through the space between.