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A New Year's Reflection: Balancing Hope, Expectations, and the Uncontrollable

Scott Allenby

A flip of the calendar to 2024 on Monday accompanied the sun shining for the first time in what seems like months. As below-freezing temperatures finally greeted me this morning after an incredibly warm December, I began to have hope that maybe, just maybe, winter would arrive this week in Andover, New Hampshire. 

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Each New Year’s Day invites social media feeds and news channels filled with predictions of what this new year will hold - new styles, trends, weather patterns, election results, wars, conflicts, the future of Travis and Taylor, Super Bowl champions, and more. There is something appealing about trying to predict the future, embracing the illusion that we somehow have a finger on the steering wheel of the world. This fleeting sense of omniscience quickly recedes into the background of media outlets, however, as we realize so much of life rests outside our immediate control. 

Proctor Academy Skiing

At some point in every group experience with adolescents (every team, Wilderness Orientation group, class, dorm, or advisory) we find ourselves as leaders helping young people navigate a balancing act of hope, expectations, and the uncontrollable. We remind our charges that in life there are some things we can control and much that we cannot (like no natural snow for our big FIS Ski Races this weekend!). Our job as humans is to show up with our whole selves, with a positive attitude, and control what we can control, while finding our way through that which we cannot with as much grace, understanding, and patience as possible. 

Proctor Academy Skiing

As students return to campus Wednesday evening and we launch into the heart of the Winter Term, we will undoubtedly have opportunities as coaches, teachers, advisors, and dorm parents to have these conversations with our students. We will be faced with adversity, the unexpected, a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and in that moment, our job is to model how to make a path forward when it feels like the brambles and rocks and mud of life have created a dead end. 

Proctor Academy Skiing

Our role as educators and parents is not to remove obstacles from young people’s lives, but to model how to handle adversity ourselves, and to consistently expose them to challenges so they can learn how to best handle all that comes their way. May the year ahead find our lives filled with challenge, opportunities to lean on each other, and a positive attitude ready to control what we can control, and make the best of that which we cannot. 

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