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  • Starlene Justice

Embracing the "Up" in Disruption

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

I have learned, in the classroom, that sometimes in order for things to change for the better, old patterns have to be disrupted.

Patterns of being.

Patterns of seeing.

Patterns of belief.

Patterns of perspective.

Patterns of thought.

For example, in creating more equity-minded classrooms, or exposing subtle bigotries or prejudices, it can be necessary to disrupt the old ways of thinking/speaking in order to bring an awareness to these ingrained—yet damaging—patterns. And, of course, in order to begin to teach a new way of speaking/thinking/perceiving.

This disruption can create discomfort. It can create anxiety, maybe fear in some people, maybe irritation or anger.

Very common responses to disruption OF ALL SORTS.

Maybe a bit like what we’re going through now with COVID-19.

Discomfort, at the very least. But also fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger, grief. For some, there may be a feeling of euphoria because the virus disrupted something they were struggling with, or needed a break from, or because it created some much-needed resting space that didn’t look like it was coming, otherwise.

Whatever the case, there has been a deep disruption and it is up to each of us to extract meaning from it.

Did you know you can do that?

Meaning isn’t inherent. Meaning is something we assign to an event or create out of it.

Assign the right meaning, and you learn the right lesson, and you gain a great benefit.

What is the meaning you are going to create from this? What are the patterns that have been broken that can allow for the creation of new, more beneficial patterns? What have you learned as a result of this situation? What are the benefits of this happening? What can you be grateful for? How can you do things differently to honor the lessons learned?

Some ideas:


· If you are out of work, or out of school, take this rare opportunity to relax your crazed mind and actually feel and process your emotions. Some people never do this, and yet it’s a vital practice for your overall well-being.


· Recognize that you’ve taken some things/people for granted and commit to changing that in the future.


· Appreciate the shortage of resources as a wake-up call to learn to manage them better. Your money; your food; the spaces in your house and yard.


· Contemplate the extraordinarily small likelihood that our Earth was going to get a little breather from all the crap we pump into her atmosphere—and recognize that, against all odds, that is happening right now.


· Do the thing you never “had time” to do. No, you don’t HAVE to. But you could. And it could create a new trajectory for your life.


· If you’re still working, OWN that feeling of pride that your service is necessary and valued. If your skills and service were taken for granted before, enjoy this moment of vindication.


· If you are afraid, take the steps to ease your fears as much as possible. Take care of your physical and mental health and perform safe practices. We cannot always remove the fear, but we can choose who we are going to be in the face of fear.

The discomfort is real. But discomfort is a necessary part of change. Yes…CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. And when we can experience our discomfort, and honor what it means, and are able to endure the way it feels, we have a chance of letting it work its magic.

We cannot change the fact that our lives have been disrupted. We can, however, choose what to make of it.

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