Past, Present, and Future
On the first day back from mid-winter break, I asked my students to take a few minutes and think about what they did for themselves during their time off--more specifically, what they did for their present selves and their future selves.
See, high school kids (who am I kidding? humans in general) tend to struggle with that whole balance thing. So identifying times you're being productive AND practicing self-care is important. Maybe you're doing more for present-you at the moment (Saturday afternoon of naps, anyone?). Or maybe you're stressing yourself out with cleaning, organizing, and planning so future you won't hate current-you, who will soon be past-you.
It's okay if the balance doesn't happen all the time. But I've found that separating out your life into these two categories (what am I doing that I want to do, and what am I doing that will pay off in the future) helps identify positive and negative habits with less judgement. You're not lazy because you watched three hours of TV. But maybe pepper in a little something for future-you? Don't you want future-you to be as happy as present-you? Is future-you going to appreciate having to do three days of homework in one evening?
This weekend marks the start of my Spring Break, and I'm determined to do something for present AND future me. Because it's possible to make both of those versions of me happy. For present-me: read, write, watch stupid TV, take naps and long baths. For future-me: grade poetry essays, grade unit 3 tests, maybe grade (some) unit 3 projects.
Okay, so it's possible to balance both sides of yourself. But what can you do for past-you? Short of ripping a hole in the space-time continuum and/or writing a science fiction plot that makes my brain hurt (Seriously, guys. I cannot wrap my head around time travel narratives. At all), what can you do?
To answer this, I asked myself what past me would have needed. Past me could've used more insight into how her mind works. Past-me needed someone to tell her she is not responsible for how others react to her or the choices they make. Past-me needed a hard, daily reminder that she cannot control what other people think or do.Past-me needed to know that there was so much she didn't know. And past-me needed someone to tell her that you don't need to be in danger of hurting yourself to go to therapy.
I can't tell past-me all of this. But I can forgive myself for not knowing them when I was younger, and for the way it affected how I perceive things now. What else can I do? I can use my unique position as a mentor to young people and help them learn the things past-me needed. Maybe it'll stick and maybe not, but it's my hope that it will. And it's my hope that these kids do something every day for their present, future, and past selves.