Breaking the ice.

I do not, myself, like icebreaker sorts of things. It brings out the middle schooler in me, the part that doesn’t like joining things, the part that is still afraid that people will point and laugh, the part that struggles with sincerity. When, in my college classes, we have to do icebreakers, it is hard for me to resist rolling my eyes. It’s not that I think I’m too cool for icebreakers. It’s that I think I’m not quite cool enough, that no one will be interested enough in me to want to break the ice. That people will think it’s silly if I participate too much. So I hang back and try not to let myself seem too invested. (Also, I don’t like silly games that have no point other than breaking the ice. Let’s come up with an actual way to break the ice for a change.)

I like to watch the students when they do icebreaker activities, to see how their personalities come out. This one hangs in the corner, acting much like I always feel. That one dives in fearlessly, asking questions of all his classmates. This one goofs off, that one works steadily. I don’t have kids (or particularly maternal instincts), but from time to time I am unexpectedly moved to see them discovering who they are, taking risks when they would rather hang back, eschewing a sense of safety in order to get involved. I want to take them aside and tell them that it doesn’t do any good to keep worrying about what people think, and that they should jump into these activities with as much abandon as a child joyously jumping into a puddle. But I know they have to figure those things out themselves, so instead I simply say, “Are you finished? Then have a seat.”

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