Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

by Stacey Ebert /
Stacey Ebert's picture
Feb 06, 2023 / 0 comments

Life is messy. If only we knew that as teenagers, perhaps we wouldn’t have been so hard on ourselves about not knowing so many things—like what major we want, what path we wish to take, where we want to live, how we can best help make the world better, what we want to be when we get older, how much money we ‘should’ have, and all of the zillion other questions that rattle around our minds once we begin to think about how we might ‘fit’ in the world at large. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

Depending on who is in our world, there are those of us who feel like we ‘should’ be somewhere at a certain time, earn a particular amount of cash by a certain age, hold some kind of title by some made up timeline, live in a specific location by a certain time—and when we get derailed, the spiral begins. 

If we’re lucky, perhaps as we continue to take one step at a time in the forward direction, we realize that it’s never too late, we’re never too old—and whether they show you or not, most people you meet get knocked down a bit at one point or another in life. It may be a job disappointment, a path derailed, a financial issue, a medical situation, a natural disaster, an emotional or mental struggle, a housing dilemma, a war or safety trauma, a family matter, another thing beyond our control, or even a global pandemic that throws the entire world into utter chaos for longer than anyone could have expected. 

The more we normalize that life is messy, the more strain we remove from our impressionable young people who might think they need to have it all figured out by some time on someone’s make-believe calendar. 

Getting knocked for a loop isn’t the focus—it’s how we rise. 

The rise, the re-emergence, the becoming…call it what you will, but, it’s never easy, it has more twists and turns than we can imagine, it has highs and lows, wins and lessons, often takes far longer than we want it to, and learning that takes us into an entire new realm

Sometimes we grow and find our steps again, sometimes we pivot and change direction, sometimes we set our sights on something we never imagined, and sometimes we wiggle through stumbles and bumps and wind up somewhere new. 

Whatever it is, however it looks on the outside, it’s messy—and at one point or another, most of us experience it in some way. It doesn’t make you weird, it absolutely doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. 

In fact, it shows a growth mindset, a desire to develop, a need to reflect, and a whole stinking heap of resilience rolled into an inspiring human. That doesn’t even make you normal; it makes you special—own it!

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

The world has been in what has felt like some level of a holding pattern since March 2020. There’ve been countless times where collectively things have felt out of kilter, and individually, lives have been upended and rocked to the core. Whether it’s a student shifting to online learning, teachers rehoning their craft in hours, businesses pivoting, anxiety surfacing, borders shifting rules, triggering moments, living situations plagued, anything with shipping or travel a mess, global unrest, or medical everything—for a time, things, people, paths, visions, and dreams were halted, changed, shuffled, dampened, or stuck. 

These times where and when it all feels out of whack, where we can’t tell exactly why we feel flat but we just do, and where we may fumble our way around but we do what we need to survive—in their own way, they’re messy for everyone. 

The lessons, the growth, the measure of us—it’s in how we rise; it’s all a part of our becoming. 

Maybe we push through the wall, maybe we reach out to ask for help, maybe we uproot our entire lives for something different, or maybe the lost feeling flows to the background and a little bit of nervous excitement can see its way clear. 

We rise, we become, we put one foot in front of the other knowing it’s okay to stumble or to not be clear on the path ahead. We get ready for forward, for flow, for flourishing again—and we offer a hand to those who may be in the place we once were. Little by little, that elusive clarity begins to shine again. There’s an energy that shows up, it’s different. What if we could offer that lesson to our students alongside their science, math, and language?

The re-emergence is a special part of growth. 

Our approach changes. It happens slowly, there may be setbacks along the way, it’s still a bit messy, but it feels like warm sunshine penetrating the clouds on the first days of spring. Somehow, we find we focus less on the stumble and more on the growth, less on the failure and more on the lesson. 

We begin to see things differently, adjusting our focus, wiping the lens, and forming a new picture. What if along with their writing, music, and history we could share that story with our students? 

Somewhere, along the way, the get back up and dust yourself off lesson is drowned by the noise of life. Toddlers do it all the time, but as adults, we forget. We begin to fear failure and do our best to refrain from it at any course. 

If we could infuse that pick yourself up learning all throughout the educational journey, perhaps the next generation would find less fear and more strength in attempting the new and the different. 

Perhaps within the possibility of failure is the potential of flight, the curiosity of the endeavor, and joy in the prospect of that leaping and dreams realized. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

If we reframe the narrative to showcase more of the wonders of re-emergence and less of the anxiety of failure, perhaps today’s students will remember that whenever and however it is they feel knocked down, they find the strength to get back up again, take whatever time they need to heal and grow, know that stumbles are not only normal but can be fruitful, and re-emerge from that funky cocoon as the beautiful butterfly they truly are. 

Regardless of age, grade, stage, or type of classroom, these are some of the lessons that are part of our collective educational journey. Onward.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

Four ways to channel skills of re-emergence 

“I have to go back, haven’t I?
Oh, that’s up to you.
I have a choice?
Oh yes. We’re in Kings Cross, you say? I think if you so desired, you’d be able to board a train.
And where would it take me?

~ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

Where will it take me?

Ever heard a therapist tell a client to ‘sit with it’? That essence of remaining present, staying still amidst the discomfort, pressing forward even if it feels unsteady, wanting to scoot back into that cocoon of comfort while simultaneously wanting to test your new wings—yup, it’s that. 

Re-emergence is a dance, it’s a vivacious cha-cha between that paralyzing fear pulling you backward and stimulating excitement while you attempt to propel forward. 

If it were easy, everyone would do it. 

Perhaps that’s the message. The lesson for the youth of today is that it’s not always easy, but it sure is worth it. The personal accolades and priceless fulfillment felt each time we mindfully choose the forward step over that fear of failure have merit beyond our wildest dreams. With each step, we conquer fear. With each leap, we choose that next version and quite literally elevate our own story. Whether we’re the little one choosing one more time to try to tie our shoes, a growing student who feels knocked down by life but chooses to stand back up again, or a young at heart adventurer who works to shift their story to fit their view of themselves today, re-emerge! You have the power and can take yourself onward. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

“It’s okay to lose, just don’t lose the lesson.” ~ George Lucas

Focus on the learning

Reimagining the meanings of failure and success can be a vital step in our process. Michael Jordan famously spoke about both when he stated, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Denzel Washington, in his continually replayed commencement speech, asked graduates if they “had the guts to fail” and reminded them to “take risks” and to “fall forward.” 

When we’re little, somehow we understand. As we age, it often feels like failure is emboldened and successes quieted. At all stages of growth, it’s imperative to focus on the lesson, but it’s not always easy. 

Find your strengths, aim to make a difference, and throw your hat in the ring. In speaking with a former student of mine who today is an entrepreneur, husband, and father of two thriving young humans, I asked what he tries to impart to his kids about this exact message. He shared that he tries to remind those little ones that they’re loved, the grown-ups are proud of them, and that no matter the outcome of any particular event, the love will be equally as strong as it was at its start. He does his best to ensure they know they have boundless permission to attempt that audition, that test, that new skill, that whatever calls to them. That they can “go try hard things and not be afraid to fail your way forward.”

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence

‘"Real isn’t how you are made…It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” ~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

There’s no timeline to becoming

Whether you subscribe to the words of Michelle Obama, The Velveteen Rabbit, Glennon Doyle, or a myriad of other renowned voices, the lesson is similar: there’s no timeline to becoming. There are wiggly lines, potholes and missteps, unlearnings and tears, awareness, stagnant periods, growth periods, manifesting moments, and a whole host of discomfort. 

But there’s magic on the other side. The unfolding, the full process takes lifetimes, but those steps towards the you you’re awakening feel like golden nuggets oozing with goodness. There’s an essence to that alignment, one that radiates deep within—and even if your brain doesn’t know it yet, your soul registers. 

It’s aha moments coupled with curiosity and a deep desire to continue on that feel good path. So, we focus on the progress, try again, take a pause, go for a walk, get a different perspective, take a break, rest, and pick up where we left off. Falling down doesn’t mean we start from scratch; we start from where we are and move forward from there. With each message of becoming, we triumph and choose yet again, to fall forward, to continue. 

“We just decided to!” ~ Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom 

Because, Why not?

Which stage of re-emergence are you in? There’s a really wanting stage, a thinking about it stage, a planning stage, and a leaping stage (and probably a bunch of others in there, too). 

They’re all part of the journey. 

Sometimes we feel that our change isn’t quick enough, but skipping stages isn’t really a thing. And, while some of us do best with a nudge, tough love, or ripping off the Band-Aid method, others thrive better with gentler encouraging methods. There’s no one right way, no one course of action—but, at the end of the day, YOU have to decide to do it. Stumbling through the messy middle is fine, it’s normal; you’re still moving forward. The skills come in the deciding to, the staying power, the smart doing amidst the hesitation, and the march, even if it’s a slow one, towards the new flourishing and thriving version of you. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Re-emergence



Please click the photo below for a collection of my Through the Eyes of an Educator columns:

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Compendium


Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at for more of her travel musings.