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‘The Next Right Thing’

New Professionals and Graduate Students Graduate
June 16, 2020 Alexandra Harrel

Unprecedent. Uncertain. Unknown. Challenging. Troubling. These are just some of the words that people have used to describe the past several months. We have heard these words so often now that they are becoming tired and overused. Yet these are challenging and unprecedented times highly filled with uncertainties and unknowns. We all hear it, see it, and feel it in basically every aspect of our lives. The last six months have felt like six years with each day bringing new emotions and confusion. 

I have been thinking a lot over the last few months about this new, unknown and uncertain time period. Sometimes it gets overwhelming thinking past the current times and into the future. Though speaking honestly, I have given up trying to predict anything with each day bringing a new set of sorrows, worries, and crazy. The unknowns and uncertainties take over making me feel paralyzed in this moment of time. I think about what my youngest sister’s first year college experience will be like. I try to imagine a fall semester that is hybrid with online programming and social distancing. I try to focus on the job search in the midst of a pandemic and hiring freezes. Mostly, I think about the countless injustices people experience on a daily basis because of race, religion, or creed. I wonder how we go forward in a pandemic and structures of injustice. 

Sitting outside, thinking about all the unknowns and uncertainties, “The Next Right Thing” from Disney’s Frozen II pops into my head. As random as it is, I remember the scene where Anna is in the dark cave, frightened and alone.She does not know what happened to her sister and friends and feels hopeless, stuck in her own grief. Hearing Kristian Bell singing the song, you can hear the sorrow and despair. It hits on what many of us are feeling; life as we know it is over, normal is no more; there’s a coldness, an emptiness, and numbness that some have felt for years and others are just recognizing. The darkness we may or may have never seen is darker and ugier and it seems so much easier to give in than resist. What we believed as truth are lies leaving some of us directionless, alone, and wondering why we should rise from the ground. I have felt myself in that cave with Anna feeling that despair; that lost; that loneliness. 

But there’s a flicker of hope; of light; of going forward. It’s rising from the ground for that next step. The moment of resolve is found in looking inward, in seeing what is right in front of you to take that next breath, to take that next step to do the next right thing. For Anna this is her revelation of looking inward to find her own strength that leads to Disney’s happy end. We are not in a Disney movie with a perfect happy ending and a triumph song. We are however in a moment of darkness, isolation, and despair with the light seeming far away. In the unknowns and uncertainties, breaking down our moments to the next breath and the next step can lead us to the next right thing. Each next step is a choice that we can make in doing the next right thing. For all my wondering of my sister’s first year college experience, colleges working in hybrid modes, and my own job search, I am still unsure; but am choosing to break it down to the next breath and the next step. I also do not have all the answers of how we will move forward from this moment in time, but know it will require all of us working together on that next breath to that next step to do the next right thing. Sometimes finding our inward strength and rising up from the cave is taking a step, then a breath, and doing the next right thing.

Reference

The next right thing Lyrics. (n.d.). Lyrics.com. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from https://www.lyrics.com/sublyric/64375/The+next+right+thing.

Author: Alexandra (Alex) Harrel works as a Graduate Assistant for the Transfer Center at the University of North Texas and is a member of NASPA. She loves reading, Disney, and Sonic Happy Hours. Alex can be found on Twitter at @harrelalexandra.