As you know, every other Wednesday, around noon CST, I hit the “send” button for a blog I write and write to over 1660 subscribers across the country, including you and many others of whom I have never met or talked to. Even though my blog is read by many and generates positive comments on a regular basis, I still find myself wondering if it really matters to those of you who subscribe to it. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to write and it’s easy to talk myself into believing you wouldn’t notice if I didn’t write a blog post on my regularly scheduled Wednesday. But, somehow, I have always managed to push through my writer’s block and consistently show up in your Inboxes every other Wednesday.
Over the past several months I have spent a significant amount of time away from my office to travel back home and accompany both of my parents to doctor appointments to address serious health issues they were facing. Coming home after days that were emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting and facing a mountain of work in my office was overwhelming. Writing for my blog was impossible.
I decided not to write a blog post on Wednesday, July 21.
In the days that followed, I began to receive email messages from many of you. Some of you requested that I re-send my blog to you thinking yours got lost in cyberspace. Others of you shared how you missed not getting my blog and how much you look forward to receiving it. Several of you talked about how you have applied some of my blog content in your personal and work lives. A number of you even inquired as to if I was doing alright as it was unusual for you to not hear from me on my regularly scheduled Wednesday.
Maybe you have experienced something similar yourself. Have you had someone reach out to you when you didn’t show up for something they were expecting you for? How did it make you feel? Did it make you want to show up again?
Have you had the opposite happen to you where no one reached out to you when you didn’t show up? How did it make you feel? Did it make you want to show up again?
We all need to feel that our presence is important to others. When someone acknowledges our presence, but also our absence, it matters. It matters a lot. It can determine whether we show up again or not.
Saying, “It’s so nice to see you!”, when someone shows up lets that person know they are seen, valued and welcomed. They are more likely to keep showing up because you made them feel like they matter.
But, it’s just as important to acknowledge those who aren’t showing up. Have you noticed or felt the absence of someone? Is there a student who has been absent from your classroom, afterschool program or other youth-related activities? Maybe it’s a student you saw regularly before the pandemic, but you haven’t seen since. Or perhaps it’s a student who was absent even before the pandemic began.
Now, more than ever before, it’s important to let students and others know they are missed. Reach out to them through a phone call. Start your conversation by simply saying, “You’ve been on my mind and I have missed seeing you”. Inquire about how they are doing. Be ready to listen. Show compassion and care. Invite them to attend an activity or event that is coming up. Whether they decline or accept your invitation, know that by reaching out to them and letting them know you miss them sends the message that they matter and they are important.
For all the times I wondered over the past two years if my blog mattered or if I even mattered, I got my answer in the emails I received when I didn’t show up in your Inboxes on Wednesday, July 21. It struck me that it took only once for me to not show up for so many of you to check in with me and let me know that I was missed and that what I do is important to you. Because of what many of you did, I am committed more than ever to continue showing up in your Inbox every other Wednesday. Why? Because I know that I matter.
And, so do your students. You just need to let them know it like you did with me.