Announcing: The New Normal

Announcing: The New Normal

 In Research

A Note from Executive Director Josh Packard:

I got my Covid shot last week. I wasn’t prepared.   

I arrived not knowing which vaccine I would get, assuming it would be the two-shot regiment with some built-in weeks of waiting. So I was stunned to find out I was getting the one-shot vaccination. All at once I realized I would walk in at-risk and walk out with the promise of immunity. 

The realization was jarring and disorienting. I didn’t have a lot of time to process the full weight of walking into the clinic in one state and leaving in a wholly different one. Although it will take another two weeks for the full effects of the vaccine would kick in, the gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on me.  

Nor was the symbolism of the timing. I got my vaccination exactly one year from the first time we went into lock-down. My family and I were in Utah a year agocelebrating my son’s 10th birthday. Camping in the desert would be the last days of easy freedom we would have for a year, though we didn’t know it at the time. I can vividly recall driving home with a palpable, eerie fear as we passed snow-filled ski resorts without any skiers and fielded calls from friends asking about the toilet paper stock at our local grocery store 

As the nurse administered my vaccine, I was overwhelmed by the emotion of it all. The year of my wife and I trying to hold everything together for my family, navigate a career transition, and launch a company—this company, Springtide, which produced its first report the same week we went into lockdown, and whose work I believe in at my very core—all in very uncertain economic times.  

But the dominant worry that weighed on me was my son. I wanted to make sure we stayed healthy and safe and that our work thrived—but mostly I wanted to know my son was doing okay: Where was he wearing down?  How could we support him?  What new patterns needed to be created to make life predictable again?   

Of course, parents always worrybut this was different. He’d never navigated anything like this before, but unlike a lot of other parts of adolescence, we hadn’t either 

The weight of this worry wore me down more than I realized. And so the relief of it all being over soon hit me like a ton of bricks.  It brings tears to my eyes even now as I write this, a full week after my shot.   

Realizing how emotional and overwhelming it was for me, an adult with tons of mechanisms and resources at my disposal to cope and process, I can’t help thinking about what it will feel like for young people to emerge on the other side of this. They simply cannot be expected to even be able to understand, identify or articulate the emotions they’re feeling from moment to moment or even about the pandemic as a whole. 

They need help with language. They need an emotional vocabulary, both literally and figuratively, to help them make sense of the world. They need time and prompts to reflect. They need rituals and movement to process. They need trusted guides to help them navigate life in a post-pandemic world. 

And that’s where you come in. Religious leaders are, essentially, professional sensemakers.   

Young people need your sense making skills right now more than ever. We are excited to offer this guide, The New Normal: 8 Ways to Care for Young People in a Post-Pandemic World to bring tips from the social sciences and data from 2,500 young people ages 13-25 to bear on the work you’re already doing to care. 

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