That thing above my head
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
People have all kinds of names for it: backpack, baggage, or .... things they carry - the reality is, all of us have some sort of trauma that we are carrying with us, trauma that we filter much of our lives through.
While I was walking into work today, seeing students and staff entering the building, I had this image that each of us have a virtual pin above our head with whatever event we are struggling with written on it. The bad thing is, I can't see anyone else's pin and others can't see mine either.
If only we could see what everyone else is going through, would that change how we look at others? Would it give us more empathy towards someone else's situation if we could see what others are struggling with? That even though they don't look like it, they are homeless, hungry, tired, or scared?
When I was still in the classroom, I would have students that would come to school not their normal self. Often times those situations can be self-induced: binge-watching the latest Netflix show or playing video games until 4am. But sometimes that's not the case. I remember a particular student that couldn't stay awake. When I approached them about it, they opened up about spending time in the emergency room the night before with their parent because their parent was sick. Finding that out from the student revealed what was on their pin - and I had more empathy for their situation because of that.
So what's on my pin? Grieving. At times, other pins also appear - self-doubt, tired, frustrated. But often it is grieving. The advantage for my wife and I is that our story has been so public that people sometimes do see our pin. I feel that people are often less than willing to share what's on their pin with us because our pin seems so much more difficult than theirs.
But we've learned that isn't the case. Each person's pin, the items in their backpack, the baggage that they carry is particularly difficult for them, and I need to acknowledge that. So, my encouragement to you today is to understand that we all have pins above our heads - we are all going through something. Recognize that people might not want to share with you what's on their pin, but just understanding that we all have a pin can lead us in the right direction.