Back to school. Three little words with a punch of feelings.
For a lot of people, going back to school whether it's elementary school, high school, or college is a thing to look forward to. For others, it's a time of dread. And for a select few, it's a mixed bag of both.
Generally, I look forward to going back to school. But if I'm honest, I look forward to the moment when I get back into a normal stride at school. I definitely don't look forward to that first week or two of transitioning back. And for a long time I didn't know why transitioning back into school was so hard for me.
It wasn't until I was at debrief from Poland that I realized why going back to school and transitioning can be so hard for people, especially me. So essentially this post has been a month in the making.
Transitioning back to school in essence is a lot like reverse culture shock.
Merriam-Webster defines culture shock as follows:
A feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place that is very different from what you are used to.
Reverse culture shock is very similar to normal culture shock, but it happens when you return to a place after being in another "culture" whether foreign or familiar.
When you leave a place, you change and the place changes. The proportion to which you change and to which the place changes directly affects the amount of reverse culture shock one experiences when they return to that place. (That's a lot of big words, and they aren't my own. I'm just paraphrasing what a speaker said while I was at debrief.)
The point is, when we're away from school for summer, whether it's two months for elementary to high school or four months like college, we change and our school changes. We are both no longer the same being that we were when we left off.
The culture changes, the buildings change, the people change, we change. And when we discover that things have indeed changed, we can feel many of the same symptoms as culture shock. To name a few: sadness, loneliness, homesickness, irritability, lack of concentration, overwhelming and irrational fears, loss of identity, developing obsessions, and so many more.
Has going back to school ever brought on any of those feelings for you?
I know I definitely experienced a great many of those symptoms while transitioning back to college last year for my junior year.
But if you are experiencing those symptoms whether mildly or radically, there is hope. For one, you're not alone. Secondly, those feelings don't last as you adjust. Thirdly, there is a Comforter during times of culture shock and adjustment and his name is Jesus.
Jesus wants to comfort people during times of distress. Here are a few verses that have been a huge comfort to me whenever I have a hard time transitioning or even as I adjusted to a foreign culture this summer:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16: 33
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10
For I consider that that sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
These are just a few verses, but there are so many verses in the Bible about how Jesus brings peace, how he is a Comforter, how he helps us during times of trial and suffering, and how he has overcome the world! In fact, I highly recommend reading the book of 1 Peter, especially chapter one. It is an amazing comfort in the midst of all trials and sufferings.
I hope this encourages you, whether you're dealing with transitioning back to school, or even transitioning into a new phase of life. It's a lot like culture shock, and it's hard.
But you're not alone, and there is hope and a promise of an eternity without weird transitions or suffering through belief in Jesus. Transitions can be hard, but Jesus is with you every step of the way.
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