Working and living at a boarding school is an incredible gift, but at times becomes insular in nature as our entire existence occurs within the Proctor bubble. Sure, we watch the news and stay in touch with others through social media and texting, but periodically stepping outside this bubble with intentionality allows us to gain valuable perspective on how we are living our lives with a macro-mindset.
As we enter the month of October, we settle into the true rhythm of the school year. The first Official Notes from academic classes hit the inboxes of advisors, parents, dorm parents and coaches. Roommates figure out how to navigate their differences. Friend groups start to sort themselves out. The personalities of teams, dorms, and advisories emerge. We coach some students through discipline infractions, and develop four year academic plans with our advisories. We live in the day-to-day needs of those around us - grading, emails, conversations, meetings - and in the midst of the simultaneous goodness and busyness of boarding school, we long for that ever-elusive notion of balance in our lives.
Here’s the thing about balance...it doesn’t just happen. You have to pursue it. Continuously. Elevating out of the weeds of our daily life is essential to maintaining a lifestyle that allows us to give our students the time, energy, and focus they deserve. The same applies to our students. Whether it is spending time with family, enjoying a bike ride or hike on a Sunday afternoon, worshipping with a faith community, or simply tuning into a regular podcast, we each employ different tools to encounter advice, guidance, and perspective beyond our studies/work/life at Proctor. Yesterday, during a late afternoon workout, I tuned into a favorite podcast of mine (pastor Erwin McManus’ message from the Mosaic community titled “You Build What You Love”) to help me elevate out of the immersive day-to-day firefighting I’ve felt the past few weeks and gain a 30,000 foot view of how life and Proctor intersect each other.
When entering into periods of reflection with the right mindset, powerful takeaways always present themselves. For me, two statements made during McManus’ message resonated deeply, both on a personal level and in terms of our collective work strengthening the Proctor community. Both statements demand self-reflection; something we talk about regularly as a school, but struggle to incorporate into our daily routines as individuals:
- You can tell a lot about what you love, by looking at what you build.
- When you love something, sacrifice is what happens.
You Build What You Love:
Perhaps the most alarming (and telling) data we should incorporate into any self-reflection process is an objective analysis of how we spend our time. Many of us have apps on our phones that provide a breakdown of time spent on our devices (often shocking numbers), but do we have the same app for our lives as a whole? For our school? What are we working to build as a community? Does it align with our mission statement and Profile of a Proctor Graduate? Are our time and resources allocated appropriately? Do our stated priorities (as individuals and as a community) match the time we spent working toward those aspirations? I do not have answers to these questions, and the answer very well may be an unequivocal "yes!", but each of us should look at our own lives and work to better align the actual time we spend on different “things” with our perception of who we want to be.
Love = Sacrifice
When I taught economics, we would start each term with a conversation about trade-offs and the notion there is no such thing as a free lunch. Daily, we wrestle with decisions around how we spend our time, money, and resources. While McManus uses a Biblical perspective in his message, the underlying concept is incredibly valuable for us to employ at Proctor: When you love something, you sacrifice to protect that thing. (Parents understand this better than anyone!) Whether it is spending financial resources for an experience, foregoing a personally fulfilling activity to be present at a loved ones recital or game, or giving up a sleep in to attend Polar Swim, sacrifice comes in many forms. As we look to strengthen community, we must move beyond our selfish selves and embrace the notion of sacrifice as an expression of love, rather than an opportunity for resentment.
As we anxiously anticipate the generous offering of oranges, yellows, and reds from the maples, birches, beeches, and oaks this October, let us be sure to carve out time for ourselves to connect, reflect, and seek perspective.