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Front Line Staff / Opinion / Staff Leadership and Management / Storytellers

ExScaredEd: Fear & Excitement of the Unknown

step into the unknown-ExScaredEd

My son Dylan just started first grade a few weeks ago.

In the weeks leading up to it, he coined a new word to describe how he was feeling: ExScaredEd. A combination of excited and scared, he said that was the best way to express how he was approaching this new year.

I love it. I love, love, love it.

Since then, he added “ExNerveEd” to describe being excited and nervous, and “ExSKYted” to express being extra-excited. Which are both pretty cool too.

But I’m stuck on ExScaredEd. Because isn’t that such a powerful emotion to think about? And especially when starting something new, like first grade! So many unknowns… a brand-new teacher, a brand-new set of classmates, a brand-new desk, brand-new rules and routines. New supplies and new clothes. A new schedule. Or at least one that is new—again, having been abandoned for the summer months. And other new-again things, like getting on the bus, and walking through the school halls, and navigating the cafeteria.

I was ExScaredEd for him, just thinking about all those new and new-again things.

As one of my favorite children’s book characters, Scaredy Squirrel, points out, the unknown is a scary place.

And it can be tempting to avoid altogether, given how scary it feels. Because the whole point of the unknown is that it’s NOT KNOWN, right? You don’t know what’s there. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if there will be snacks.

Yes, the fear of the unknown can be powerful enough to turn us away, to keep us safe and cozy, squarely in the middle of all the KNOWNS… whether we actually like those knowns all that much or not. But we often forget about the exciting part…

We forget that in the unknown there are possibilities. Maybe we’ll love what’s there. Maybe we’ll discover things we didn’t even know existed. Maybe we’ll grow, change, laugh, dance. Maybe there will be Thin Mints.

Yes, the unknown is scary.

It can be very, very scary. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s good to feel scared! After all, there might be a big furry green monster eating all those Thin Mints before you even get there.

But if you believe that’s all it is, well, you just might be missing out.

Dylan’s fully ExSKYted about first grade now that he’s a week in. He’s loving it. And I think because he allowed himself to be ExScaredEd going in, he stayed open to whatever adventure was ahead.

So if you’re facing any sort of unknown right now, and if you’re feeling scared, I invite you to take a page out of Dylan’s book and try on ExScaredEd for size instead.

How can you step into the unknown today, fully ExScaredEd?

For breakfast, I had coffee and then another coffee.

Author Profile: @erikap

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