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Ampersand Time: Changes & Transitions

By Andrea Schmitt
You have marked your calendar, you are counting the days and have an end date in mind. It is the conclusion of yet another school year. These last weeks are stressful as they are spiked with exams, maybe prom, and packing up your room. There are lots of mixed feelings in your brain, stomach and heart, a lot of ampersands, which are represented by this symbol: “&”.
We can use this symbol to acknowledge our mixed and conflicting feelings for a particular situation. You might feel happy & sad. Happy that the exams will finally be over and sad that you will leave school. You may be excited & frightened. Excited about not having to attend classes and frightened because you don’t really know what to do during those summer weeks. Often it boils down to “I am happy that school will be over in x days!” & “I am sad that school will be over in x days!”
This is confusing, frustrating and mind boggling. More so if your parents/friends/teachers make comments like ”But you will have so much fun in the summer”, “I wish I had a whole summer off” or “When I was your age…!”
What to do
Recognize your feelings and name them
As you are a teen, your feelings are normally “big” because that is just the way it is in the teen years (due to brain development and hormones). You might notice that you are frustrated/insecure/nervous & at the same time overjoyed/optimistic/proud. Maybe you are just plain happy and feel that you should be a bit sad, but you are not, that is also okay.
Validate your feelings
Say to yourself “That is totally normal in this situation”, “Anyone would feel that way if they were in my shoes”, “We all have conflicted feelings.”
Talk about your feelings with someone and be this someone to your friends
When you share your feelings, you will most probably find out that you are not alone with these ampersand thoughts and emotions. Realizing this can make you feel less conflicted.
Realize what you can control, what you can’t
You cannot control that the school year will end, but you can control how you end it. So, write all that bothers you about the situation down. Then cross out what you cannot do anything about. After that, work on what is left!
You can build your “RAFT” intentionally
The RAFT concept includes suggestions of how to handle transition (here the end of school year). It includes:  reconciliation, affirmation, farewells and think destination. You can find out more in my post from last year.
If you would like to broaden your emotional vocabulary, here is a link to the “Wheel of  Emotions” where you can find 18 emotion examples for why you might be feeling sad.
Be kind to yourself and others.

Andrea Schmitt is a life coach specializing in teenage girls and a former Stanstead parent (Jessica Lozano Schmitt 2018). Find out more about her services at or email