Where’s Waldo, and Why Should We Care?

During a slight bout of procrastination today I found myself looking for Waldo.

Who’s Waldo? And Why are you Looking for Him?

Ole Wally has kind of fallen to the wayside the past few decades or so. This became more apparent to me when I searched his name, and the link I clicked on said “You’re looking up the history of Waldo’s creation, what has become of your life?”   Touche, “Waldo Wiki,” Touche.

Anyways, before the age of the internet and universal access to a seemingly endless world of amusement and procrastination, people would read books *gasp* for fun. Notedly, some books were more fun than others, especially for kiddies. One of these ‘fun’ books was “Where’s Waldo?
The goal of this book was to look at the same page for a long period of time to locate this patriotic-looking world-traveling type of fellow named ‘Waldo’.

Waldo constantly finds himself in situations that many of us would find ourselves in, such as at the beach or a carnival — or, he’s in outer space, underwater, or has traveled back in time. Some of the puzzles are easily, while others seem nearly impossible. Regardless, they all assume that you, first- have an interest in finding Mr. Wally and second- have the patience.

But, if you are neither interested in finding our good old friend nor have the patience to find him, why should you care about good ole’ Waldo?

Life is Like Ancient Troy

You’re going to need to click on the image and zoom on this one

Please take the next five to ten minutes to click on the picture, zoom in to the scene, and find Waldo.


Yes, I’m serious. It’s kind of important.


That was too fast. Don’t tell me you’ve given up already! Keep trying!


Did you find him?

What did you notice when you were looking for him? What was going on in the scene? What was going on within you? Were you Calm? Focused? Anxious? Overwhelmed?

What if Waldo was real- how does he seem to be in this environment?

It’s interesting- Waldo is nearly always in this extremely crowded, active, chaotic environments that would be overwhelming to many. But, if you look at Waldo, he consistently has the same posture, same expression, same demeanor. He appears unfazed by the chaos that is going on around him. Of the eighty or so people that are surrounding him he is okay that:

  1. About 25 people are all looking up at who knows what
  2. There are several armed fights erupting around him
  3. A filming crew also time-traveled with him and have staged an armed fight scene (as if one had to be staged)
  4. There are two men laid out on the ground from which we can assume was the result of their punishment for littering when it was clearly marked that there is to be no littering!

Despite all of this, Waldo is smiling and happy; “just chilling” (if you weren’t able to find him but want to see what I am talking about, you can click here for a MAJOR spoiler alert).

What if we were Waldo? What if, on a daily basis, we were expected to delve into chaos and be okay with it?

Not everybody wants that job description. But, even if you hope to earn your degree and work in an environment that is less predictable than Ancient Troy, it is still important to learn self control and to be aware of our emotional state, and how this may be effecting how we come off to others.  On the other hand, some like the idea of working in an environment as unpredictable as Ancient Troy. Self-awareness and the ability to remain collected is just as important on both ends.

Life at MSPP is like Being Waldo in the Stone Age
(Bear with me here)

We don’t know much about Waldo. We don’t know who he is, where he came from, or how long he’s been standing there. Who has he talked to in the picture? What has he done there? Before he got there? Maybe Waldo is really running around causing mayhem and, with superior timing skills, poses for a still shot and then carries on? Where does he go after his time at that location has been served? Who do we have to pay to get a case study done around here?!

Who knows. But what I do know is that a graduate education in Psychology can be chaotic. There are classes to attend, papers to write, assessments to perform, staff to meet with, and this isn’t even touching the chaos that may meet us at our practicum sites we attend two or three times a week. We can learn a lot from this single shot of Waldo- that in the face of chaos, to appear calm, collected and responsible is very important. Finding Waldo itself is an awarding experience, and to be met with such a well put-together character was definitely worth the effort.

*Ah,* Much Better!

Despite the chaos, both MSPP and my current practicum site have been amazing at making sure that when chaos does present itself, it’s manageable. We do not enter, or exit, a chaotic situation alone. When life happens, both professors and teacher aids have been excellent about working with students to make sure work is done in a way that is effective for learning. When chaos presents itself at my practicum site, even those who are not my direct supervisor are more than willing to work through potentially confusing or problematic cases or situations. There are plenty of people to help along the way and to point in the right direction so that we can all be happy and cool like Waldo in the Stone Age.

So, Be honest:

About StephanieN

Stephanie is a first year clinical PsyD student at MSPP in Newton, Massachusetts. She graduated Cum Laude from Clark University with a bachelor's in Psychology. Her interests are in community mental health and homelessness, as well as chronic mental illness including severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis. In her spare time, Stephanie likes to spend time playing with her daughter and (attempting) to cook new foods.
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