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I have virtually zero complaints about how my DukeEngage summer has gone. Given the unique circumstances of this summer, the amount of support I have received from my organization is beyond anything I would have wanted. I’ll take the remainder of this reflection to speak on the topic of change, resiliency, and personal growth.

I feel that change is not only necessary for growth, it is the only way to grow. Fear of change is encompassed by the fear of the unknown. We do not fear a different situation, rather we fear not knowing or having control of that different situation. Responding effectively to change begins with a person recognizing their vulnerabilities when entering a place of the unknown. I believe it is vitally important to face this ineluctable truth head on instead of shying away from the truth. Secondly, one must seek for acceptance within the realm of the unknown.

Undoubtedly, being in a place of uncertainty is frightening, but I do not think the best course of action is to seek comfort. Being thrust into an area of unfamiliarity encourages improvement of oneself, a sort of improvement that cannot be derived from comfort or complacency. Through change, I have learned the importance of resilience and courage. The frightening times will end soon. And when what frightens you subsides, your comfort zone enlarges. That is what change is all about.

I’m not used to working and living in the same place. Attending congressional hearings from my personal home feels a bit different than the hearings live from Capitol Hill. Only knowing my colleagues and mentors via a computer screen feels a bit different than what I’m used to. Attending virtual meetings feels a bit different when you can’t feel the emotion or the body language of those that are speaking.

I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I feel grateful to be given this opportunity to experience a new novel kind of life. These changes in how we live are challenging, which is precisely why it’s great. I get to live a new kind of life for a while, and to me, that is incredibly exciting. The pandemic has dealt us a terrible hand, but how can we make the most out of the cards we are dealt?

Funded through the W.K Kellogg Foundation, Families USA hosts an annual national workshop, titled “Health Equity Academy in System Transformation,” where selected community leaders are given the opportunity to discuss problems and solutions to health care payment and delivery systems. The academy, set to occur in July, has moved virtually. It has been difficult to imagine how to connect a new incoming cohort of fellows without physical presence. In our meetings, we discuss how to best move forward. I have been gathering resources for the upcoming academy and keeping in mind that these resources must have efficacy when given and used virtually. We are putting a “virtual lens” in front of everything we do. It’s difficult to do.

Resilience is paramount to embracing and utilizing the opportunity of change. When difficulties and burdens inevitably manifest themselves through change, resiliency is the key to pushing through the hardships to a place of improvement and solace. Working remotely in times such as these has tested our resiliency. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted. This new way of life has been a stark difference to the life we once knew, and remote work has posed a great difficulty for many organizations and individuals. It is resiliency that will keep us afloat during these times. And hopefully, when things clear, this period of resiliency will bring about a great amount of improvement from the past. I’m not going to stop bouncing back.