Whelmed

Whelmed
Robert Bergman '93

In the cartoon super-hero show, Young Justice, Tim Drake is Robin, the Boy Wonder. (Dick Grayson moved on to become Nightwing, in case you wondered.) He has a running joke about being “whelmed.” He says, “You're overwhelmed. Freeze was underwhelmed. Why isn't anyone just whelmed?’.”  It took a little digging, but it turns out you can be “whelmed.”  It basically means the same thing as “overwhelmed,” making the “over” part of “overwhelmed,” redundant.

Man, do I feel whelmed!

I spent much of the last five months waiting. I waited for the pandemic to be over, for life to return to “normal,” for my kids to stop fighting, for some direction to the school year, for a friend to show up unannounced and welcomed, for my “COVID Bubble” to expand, for the mail to come on time, for an opportunity to not cook dinner, for a good night’s sleep, for the inevitable exposure to COVID-19, for a good laugh, for some relief, for a quiet day, for a chance to just not be a parent for a few minutes, for night to come so my wife and I could relax, for me to stop grinding me teeth, for me to stop clenching my jaw, for an opportunity to get away from it all, for the stress to lessen — and I seriously could go on.

I listed all of these because I wanted you to know that you are not alone.

We are seriously all in this together. I told the students on the first day of school, “We are asking you to be more mature than we’ve ever asked you to be. If you want to be here, if you like seeing your friends every day, if you want to keep the doors open, we are asking you to stand up and be men for and with others like never before. You have to wear a mask. You have to wash your hands. You have to social distance. And if you don’t, we will be home again and our opportunity to be in this building will be over.” But who knows, we may do all these things and we still may have to go home for school again.  

Not much has changed in the five months of quarantine. I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. I still am. My children are at their grade school and we are asking little kids to change their natural behaviors of being physically close to each other. We don’t know the long-term effects of all this social distancing. Will my kids be maladjusted? Will they never be able to trust a person again who comes close? Will their friendships fade when they can’t be together? Will they never learn how to be part of team?  

Now, I feel overwhelmed. Our situation is big enough to warrant the “over.”

But, sharing it sure helped.

Keep that in mind. Sharing our worries and fears can be therapeutic. Let’s give each other the space to share.

Thank you.

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blackboard with red, yellow, and blue squares and people symbols with arrows connecting

"It is a funny feeling to realize how close we all are in reality. I’m only one or two steps away from presidents, titans of industry, poor children, and people who are dying of cancer on a cancer ward." Robert Bergman '93 reflects on how connected we really are.

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